Freedom House Domestic Violence Shelter: Five Key Areas of Safety
Five Key Areas of Safety: A special follow up to An Innovative New Method for Measuring Safety. The team responds to insights from the initial article on An Innovative New Method for Measuring Safety.
The response to the last article was tremendous—ranging from a request for training from The Guam Coalition Against Sexual Assault and Family Violence, to an invitation to present at the Upper Manhattan Domestic Violence Coalition meeting.
What we heard repeatedly from readers and colleagues is that: domestic violence safety planning can be vague; concrete action items would be very beneficial in working with individuals.
In the first article, we broke down safety into 5 key areas: Travel, Electronic, Financial, Location, and Relationships. This month, in response to reader queries, we have expanded these categories and included more detail.
· Don’t take the same train or bus route your abuser may frequent.
· Make sure no one is following you while traveling.
· Maintain discretion in new, safe locations.
· Exercise caution in what information is revealed to new acquaintances.
· Smart Phones/Phones with GPS – Make sure the GPS is turned off.
· WiFi – Put a password on your account so others do not have access.
· Social Networking Sites such as Facebook – Don’t “check-in” to places, make your page “private,” block people who may be harassing you via social media.
· Online banking/credit card accounts – If fleeing from your abuser don’t use the credit/debt card in your new location as the abuser can check where transactions took place.
· E-Mail passwords and Pin numbers – Change pin numbers and passwords so the abuser cannot access accounts.
· Digital Cameras – If showing pictures make sure your location cannot be recognize in the background. Example: If you take a picture in a train station, can you see the station name in the background? Also, be careful where you post pictures on social media sites and who may have access to view them.
· Paper/Online phone books – Contact your phone company to make sure your phone number and address is not listed.
· Credit Reports – Some abusers will take out credit cards or loans in the survivor’s name causing them to have a poor credit reports.
· Utility Bills – Be cautious around an abuser running up a utility bill in the survivor’s name such as electric. This can cause difficulties in the future when you need to turn on utilities.
· Joint Bank Accounts – If an account is under both the abuser and survivor be watchful about who is taking out money, how much, and where as both parties have access to the information.
· Revoke HIPPAA consents for medical information.
· Communicate with children’s schools/child care providers/doctors about who to NOT give information to.
· Know where your local police station is. If you have an order of protection, inform the domestic violence liaison at the precinct.
· Identify warning signs of an abusive relationship.
· Identify “green flags” of a healthy relationship.
· Understanding healthy boundaries in relationships is important.