leaving safely

Leaving Safely – Part 1

“The only way we are ever leaving each other is when we both die in our 80s.”

On an episode of Dr. Phil this afternoon called “A Violent Love Intervention,” we hear that that frightening threat from a man named Danny to his girlfriend Julie. Julie has come forward to speak about the physical and emotional abuse she’s been enduring for two-and-a-half years.

There are many reasons victims stay with their abusers, and countless obstacles to leaving — it’s often the most dangerous time in the relationship.

When we talk about leaving an abusive partner, it’s important to realize that this is a personal choice. Only you can know if it’s the right decision for you at the time. If it is something that you’re thinking about doing, there are steps you can take to prepare and ensure your safety.

Remember that preparation is key.

Set aside money, even in small amounts adding up over time, and hide it somewhere safe or have a family member or friend hold onto it for you.

If it’s safe, consider starting your own savings or checking account, and use a family or friend’s address to open it.

Get as much information as you can before you leave — call us and we can connect you to your local domestic violence programs to see what they offer (in terms of legal advice, counseling, etc.) Learn about your different options.

Know your abuser’s schedule and plan out a safe time to leave when they won’t be around. Don’t feel that you have to tell them that you’re leaving or feel that they should be there when you make your exit. They may try to make you stay if they get the chance.

Know where you’re headed, such as a local shelter or family member or friend’s house. Have all the contact numbers for these places.

If you’re planning a quick getaway, back your car into the driveway, and make sure to keep it fueled. Consider having a spare set of keys for the car.

Have a packed bag ready to go. Keep it hidden somewhere, such as in a trunk of your car, or even at work or a family or friend’s house. Bring:

  • Birth and marriage certificates
  • ID and social security cards
  • Keys
  • School and medical records (for yourself and children)
  • Passports, green cards, work permits
  • Protective orders, divorce papers, custody orders
  • Bank papers and credit cards
  • Important pictures or keepsakes
  • Any documentation of the abuse (journals, photos)
  • A list of important phone numbers
  • Clothing for yourself and your children
  • Titles, deeds and other property information

If you have children, inform the school about what is going on.

As seen in today’s Dr. Phil episode, leaving is a scary time. If you’re planning on leaving, ease some of your fears by making a plan and preparing for when the time comes. You can always plan your exit strategy with an advocate by calling us at 1−800−799−SAFE(7233).

What did you think of today’s episode? If you’re a survivor and successfully left your abuser, what tips do you have for leaving safely?

helpful safety tips

When The Fighting Starts: Tips for Protection

While no one deserves to be in an abusive relationship and no one deserves to be physically or emotionally harmed by a loved one, the reality is that it occurs far too often and in many situations leaving is not always an option.

If you’re in a relationship where physical abuse is ongoing or likely to occur, there are some practical tips that could help keep you safer. Of course, making a plan for safety is very individualized — what works for one person may not be a possible or safe option for another.

Calling the hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE will connect you with an advocate who can help you make a plan for remaining safe based on your specific situation — where you are in the relationship, what tactics may have worked in the past, and more.

Above all, you are the expert of your situation. You may be able to recognize signs that violence is escalating, and plan accordingly based on this. Have a safety plan for you and your children to know who to call, where to go, and how to get out if you can escape.

While there are tips to try to prevent abuse from happening, a violent attack or assault can be unpredictable. If there’s no way to escape the violence, there are some tips for protection that could help keep you safer during an attack.

  • If you’re pregnant, there is always a heightened risk during violent situations. If you’re in a home with stairs, try to stay on the first floor.  Getting into the fetal position around your stomach if you’re being attacked is another tactic that can be instrumental in staying safe.
  • Determine which rooms are safe areas to go. Which rooms have locks on the doors? What offers you the most space? Small spaces such as closets or bathrooms could leave you trapped. Safe rooms may have windows or doors for escape, and may have a phone to reach in case of emergency. Try to avoid rooms with hard counters or other dangerous surfaces.
  • Be aware of what could be used as a weapon — and if you know where guns or knives or other weapons are, hide them away if you can, or stay away from where they’re located (in the kitchen or garage, for example).
  • Consider calling 911 if you feel like it’s safe to do so. Try to remove yourself from the situation first. If you’re calling from a cell phone, begin by telling the dispatcher the address where you’re located in case you need to hang up quickly — it’s more difficult to pick up on where a call on a cell phone is coming from.
  • Consider having a “back up phone.” If you think it won’t be possible to reach a phone in case of emergency — and if its safe to do so — think about purchasing a pay-as-you-go phone to hide in a safe room.
  • Protect your major organs. Make yourself small and curl up into a ball. Protect your face and your head.

Here at The Hotline, brainstorming with and talking to callers about how to stay safe is one of the most important parts of each call. While the above are practical ideas for protecting yourself in the face of danger, every situation is different.

If physical violence has occurred in the past, you may know what it takes to deescalate and end it — or, you may not know how you’ll react until you find yourself in a situation where you need to. Trust your instincts — and we can help, too. If you’re in an abusive relationship or know someone who is, please give us a call at 1-800-799-SAFE, 24/7, to speak confidentially with a trained advocate.

make a statement - denim day

Make a Fashion Statement – Tomorrow is Denim Day

In Italy in 1992, an 18-year-old girl was forcefully raped by her 45-year-old driving instructor. After she pressed charges, he was convicted and then appealed the sentence. The case made its way to the Italian Supreme Court where, within a few days, it was overturned and dismissed, and the perpetrator was released.

According to the judge, “…because the victim wore very, very tight jeans, she had to help him remove them, and by removing the jeans it was no longer rape but consensual sex.”

Enraged women in the Parliament began to protest by wearing jeans to work and this statement of action spread to the US, beginning in California. Now, every year since 1999, Peace Over Violence has been organizing Denim Day in the US, asking people to wear jeans as a visible statement of protest against sexual assault and the misconceptions that often accompany it.

Victim blaming unfortunately still happens today. We hear it in the news, in undercurrents of conversations, on Twitter – everywhere. In the wake of the recent case of Trent Mays and Ma’lik Richmond convicted of raping their 16-year-old classmate in Steubenville, Ohio, countless reactions focused on the young girl and what she was wearing (among other things – how much she had been drinking, whether or not she had been friendly with the perpetrators) instead of on the actions of the two boys.

Even a media headline like “How drunk was too drunk to consent?” seems to frame a news story about sexual assault in a victim-blaming way, focusing on the actions of the victims instead of the actions of the perpetrators.

Wearing tight jeans (or baggy jeans, or no jeans, or anything) never implies consent.

Tomorrow, pledge to wear jeans on Denim Day and make a statement with your fashion statement. Commit to educating yourself and others about sexual violence. Talk to someone you know about what victim blaming is. Follow the hashtag #DenimDay on Twitter to see what events are taking place around the country.

crime victims rights

It’s National Crime Victim’s Rights Week

“A right is not what someone gives you; it’s what no one can take from you.” — Ramsey Clark

Each year 18.7 million Americans are directly harmed by crime — and this statistic doesn’t include the countless number of family, friends and co-workers who are also impacted by these tragedies.

Yesterday marked the beginning of National Crime Victim’s Rights Week (April 21-27). Since 1981, the Office for Victims of Crime has dedicated this week to promoting victims’ rights and honoring both victims and those who advocate on their behalf. This year’s theme is “New Challenges. New Solutions” which focuses on OVC’s initiative, “Transforming Victim Services.”

As a national organization committed to ending domestic violence, this is a crucial week for us to reflect upon and think about victims of these and other crimes. Each day we advocate for victim’s rights, and there has been great progress made. It was only last month that we saw the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act, with new provisions extending the protection of Native American women and members of the LGBT community.

Still, it only takes a quick look around us — in the media, at our congressional hearings, in everyday dialogue — to see that challenges remain. According to OVC, about 50% of violent crimes are not reported, and only a fraction of victims receive the help they need. Domestic violence remains one of the most underreported crimes, for various reasons. Every day we speak to victims who are in fear of being deported, losing custody of their children, becoming financially unstable, or not being believed. Victims’ rights are not all equal, and often go unenforced or ignored.

As demonstrated through this national week of recognition each year, conversation and collaboration is necessary for further change.

Domestic Violence Is a Crime

In 2010, violent crimes by intimate partners totaled 509,230 — 13% of all violent crimes. Of female murder victims in 2010, 38% were killed by a husband or boyfriend. Sixty four percent of female victims experienced violence by an intimate partner during their lifetime.

Learn More

If you or someone you know is a victim of intimate partner violence, call The Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE to confidentially speak with an advocate. We can provide you with info on safety planning and next steps, as well as give you resources for learning more about victim rights.

To get more involved, check out the National Calendar of Crime Victim Assistance-Related Events to see if there is anything you can attend in your area, or organize your own event. For more information about victims of assault, domestic violence, stalking, child abuse, sexual assault and other crimes, download the Help Series brochures.

Learn more about the history of victim’s rights (Section 5).

Follow the hashtag #NCVRW2013 on Twitter throughout the week to learn more.

saam day of action

#SAAM Around the Country

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, and every day we read more and more about the events and activities going on all throughout the country. It’s empowering to see so many people getting involved to speak out against domestic violence – and hopefully some of these events will inspire you to share your voice as well.

  • The Clothesline Project, an effort supported by Verizon Wireless, is happening in towns all across the country. Those affected by violence decorate a t-shirt with personal stories and messages, and then these are all hung on a clothesline for others to view. Many towns and organizations are taking part, including Voices Against Violence at Plymouth State University, Shippensburg University and Rhode Island College.
  • The Orange County Rape Crisis Center in North Carolina is painting the town teal with events ranging from a “Gratitude Gala” to celebrate volunteers and supporters, to a “Healing Trauma With Yoga” workshop.
  • Colorado State University’s Women and Gender Advocacy Center is hosting events and talks all through the month, such as the “But I’m a Nice Guy!” workshop to explore ways men can be agents of change and confront sexual violence.
  • Minnesota State Mankato Women’s Center is hosting various events in April, including a trivia night to test people’s knowledge related to women’s history and women’s accomplishments.
  • At Palo Alto High School a student-run publication called Verde Magazine dedicated their entire April issue to rape awareness, including interviews with two students about their own experiences with sexual assault.
  • In Salt Lake City and countless other places in the country, people joined together for Slut Walks to speak out against sexual violence and victim blaming (i.e. the idea that victims invited an attack because of what they were wearing).
  • One Penn State student bravely shared her personal story in order to “put a name and a face next to those statistics and the horrors that Sexual Assault Awareness Month is attempting to fight.”
  • Hampshire College hosted a program about sexual assault in the military, with author Helen Benedict.
  • Towns like Fort Morgan, CO, have organized Take Back The Night events, which are gatherings/walks where victims and advocates join together to “take back their voices” by sharing stories and speaking out against sexual violence.
  • The Oklahoma City Barons hockey team is donating a portion of its April ticket sales to sexual assault prevention programs, and is wearing teal ribbons on their helmets to promote awareness.

These are just a few of the amazing events that are taking place during April’s Sexual Assault Awareness Month. We’d love to hear what you or your community is doing – let us know in the comment section.

what is consent

What Is Healthy Consent? What ISN’T Consent?

Consent. This one word draws a line between acceptable and unacceptable sexual behaviors. This one word helps define whether an experience was sexual assault or not. Was the action wanted? Was the act agreed upon by both people?

For as important as consent is, we don’t talk about it enough. In the wake of so many high coverage media cases of sexual assault in which much of the coverage shifted the blame to the victims who were somehow “asking for it” or “didn’t say no,” it’s important to reevaluate what consent is and how we can give it or withhold it. It’s also essential that we understand what it looks like when our partners give — or don’t give — consent.

First, we need to change how we think about consent. The old idea of “no means no” is not a good approach. It puts the responsibility on one person to resist or accept, and makes consent about what a partner doesn’t want, instead of what they do want.

Consent can be sexy. It can be a moment for both partners to openly express to each other what they’re looking for and what they do want to experience. The saying “yes means yes” can be empowering and useful in thinking about what consent is.

Consent is ongoing. Both partners should keep giving, and looking for, consent. Just because you’ve given consent to an act before, doesn’t mean it becomes a “given” every time. This idea also relates to new relationships — just because you’ve given consent to something in a different relationship doesn’t make it “automatic” in a new relationship.

Consent is not a free pass. Saying yes to one act doesn’t mean you have to consent to other acts. Each requires its own consent. EX: Saying yes to oral sex doesn’t automatically mean you’re saying yes to intercourse.

Your relationship status does not make consent automatic. If you’re married to someone, friends with someone, or dating someone, it doesn’t mean they ‘own’ your consent by default. Or that you own theirs. Also, consent can be taken back at any time — even if you’re in the midst of something and feeling uncomfortable, you always have the right to stop.

There’s no such thing as implied consent. The absence of a “no” does not equal a “yes.” What you or a partner chooses to wear doesn’t mean that you or they are inviting unwanted sexual attention or “pre-consenting.” The same can be said for flirting, talking, showing interest or any other actions.

It’s not consent if you’re afraid to say no. It’s not consent if you’re being manipulated, pressured, or threatened to say yes. It’s also not consent if you or a partner is unable to legitimately give consent, which includes being asleep, unconscious, under the influence of conscious-altering substances or not able to understand what you’re saying yes to.

Nonconsent means STOP. If anyone involved isn’t consenting, then what is happening is or could be rape, sexual assault or abuse.

Here are some red flags that your partner doesn’t respect consent:

  • They pressure or guilt you into doing things you may not want to do.
  • They make you feel like you “owe” them — because you’re dating, or married, they gave you a gift, etc.
  • They react negatively (with sadness, anger or resentment) if you say “no” to something, or don’t immediately consent.
  • They ignore your wishes, and don’t pay attention to non-verbal cues that could show that you’re not consenting (EX: being reluctant, pulling away).

How to practice healthy consent: 

  • Talk about it! Communication is one of the most important aspects of a healthy relationship. Establish boundaries by explaining what things you and your partner are comfortable with and what things you may not feel comfortable with. Always ask first. Try phrases like:
    “Are you OK with this?”
    “If you’re into it, I could…”
    “Are you comfortable with this?”
  • Be aware of the physical and nonverbal signs of consent as well. If your partner seems uncomfortable, talk about it and discuss it. Don’t assume that silence is them saying yes.
  • Remember that giving and receiving consent is an ongoing process.

Further Reading

The Good Men Project has an amazing article about how to teach consent to your children, breaking down the ‘methods’ and ideas into what would be most appropriate for each age group.

The post “Drivers Ed for the Sexual Superhighway,” is geared toward teens but relates to any relationship.

The Consensual Project focuses on partnering with schools and universities to teach students about consent in their daily lives.


Avon Foundation for Women Awards $200,000 Grant to The National Domestic Violence Hotline


April 15, 2013 – The National Domestic Violence Hotline (NDVH) announced that it has received a
$200,000 gift for 2013 from the Avon Foundation for Women to support NDVH’s efforts to answer
calls from domestic violence victims, friends and family members. Every day of the week, 24 hours a
day, NDVH has highly trained expert advocates available to talk confidentially with anyone affected by
domestic violence. NDVH provides callers with lifesaving tools and immediate support to enable victims
to find safety and live their lives free of abuse.

The gift is funding two new part-time advocate positions, which have just been filled, as well as
additional relief advocates, including bilingual advocates, to help respond to thousands of calls from
victims, their families and friends and even abusers. The Avon Foundation for Women’s Speak Out
Against Domestic Violence program has been a strong supporter of the hotline, giving more than
$500,000 to the organization.

“The Avon Foundation for Women’s Speak out Against Domestic Violence program is proud to be a long-
time supporter of the National Domestic Violence Hotline in its fight to end domestic violence,” said
Avon Foundation for Women President Carol Kurzig. “We are honored that our gift will directly affect
those who are calling the hotline for assistance with domestic violence, further extending the number of
calls the hotline is able to answer annually and bringing support to those who need it most.”

In 2012, nearly 53,000 calls for help to NDVH went unanswered due to a lack of resources. “In addition to our inability to answer every call, we have noticed a significant increase in Spanish-speaking calls to our emergency hotline and this grant will help us better meet the need for additional bilingual advocates to answer those calls,” said Katie Ray Jones, president of the National Domestic Violence Hotline. “We are so grateful to the Avon Foundation for Women for their generous support for 16 years and their continued partnership with us in the fight to end domestic violence.”

Currently, many Spanish-speaking calls to the emergency hotline are being routed to an outside
language interpretation service. By keeping these calls inside, NDVH can provide a seamless service to
callers as well as a decrease in the call waiting time. With the 2012 Avon gift, the emergency hotline
was able to answer 31,522 calls.

About The National Domestic Violence Hotline
Operating around the clock, seven days a week, 24/7, confidential and free of cost, the National
Domestic Violence Hotline (NDVH) provides lifesaving tools and immediate support to enable victims
to find safety and live lives free of abuse. Callers to the emergency hotline 1-800-799-SAFE (7233)
can expect highly trained experienced advocates to offer compassionate support, crisis intervention
information and referral services in more than 170+ languages. Visitors to www.NDVH.org can find
information about domestic violence, safety planning, local resources, and ways to support the
organization. NDVH is part of the largest nationwide network of programs and expert resources and
regularly shares insight about domestic violence with government officials, law enforcement agencies,
media and the general public. NDVH is a non-profit organization established in 1996 as a component of
the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). It relies on the generous support of individuals, private gifts
from corporations and foundations and federal grants. For more information, visit www.NDVH.org or
call 512.794.1133.

Avon Speak Out Against Domestic Violence
The Avon Foundation for Women launched Speak Out Against Domestic Violence in 2004 to support
domestic violence awareness, education and prevention programs aimed at reducing domestic and
gender violence, as well as direct services for victims and their families. Through the end of 2012, the
Avon Foundation for Women has donated $33 million in the United States to support domestic violence
programs, services and education. Globally, Avon supports efforts to end violence against women in
nearly 50 countries by raising funds through special product sales and raising awareness through events
and with educational information disseminated by more than 6 million global Avon Representatives.
Visit www.avonfoundation.org for more information.

safety planning with children

Safety Planning With Children

Being in an abusive situation can feel incredibly scary and isolating, and if children are involved – even indirectly witnessing the abusive – it can become a lot more complicated and dangerous. A parent’s instinct is to make sure their child is safe – but how can you do this best if your abusive partner is unpredictable, or manipulative?

All of our advocates at The Hotline are equipped to help you safety plan for you and your children during any stage in your relationship. Based on what you’re going through, we can help assess the best plans of action and brainstorm different options with you – even when you’re feeling out of options.

Planning for Violence in the Home
If you are in an abusive relationship, a safety plan should include ways that your children can stay safe when violence is happening in your home. It’s key to remember that if the violence is escalating, you should avoid running to the children because your partner may hurt them as well

  • Teach your children when and how to call 911
  • Instruct them to leave the home if possible when things begin to escalate, and where they can go
  • Come up with a code word that you can say when they need to leave the home in case of an emergency  — make sure that they know not to tell others what the secret word means
  • In the house: Identify a room they can go to when they’re afraid and something they can think about when they’re scared
  • Instruct them to stay out of the kitchen, bathroom and other areas where there are items that could be used as weapons
  • Teach them that although they want to protect their parent, that they should never intervene
  • Help them to make a list of people that they are comfortable talking and expressing themselves to
  • Enroll them in a counseling program (local service providers often have children’s programs)

Planning for Unsupervised Visits
If you have separated from an abusive partner and are concerned for your children’s safety when they visit your ex, developing a safety plan for while they are at their home can be beneficial.

  • Brainstorm with your children (if they are old enough) to come up with ways that they can stay safe using the same model as you would for your own home. Have them identify where they can get to a phone, how they can leave the house, and who they can go to.
  • If it’s safe to do, send a cell phone with the children to be used in emergency situations — this can be used to call 911, a neighbor or you if they need aid

Planning for Safe Custody Exchanges

  • Avoid exchanging custody at your home or your partner’s home
  • Meet in a safe, public place such as a restaurant, a bank/other area with lots of cameras, or even near a police station
  • Bring a friend or relative with you to the exchanges, or have them make the exchange
  • Perhaps plan to have your partner pick the children up from school at the end of the day after you drop them off in the morning – this eliminates the chances of seeing each other
  • Emotional safety plan as well – figure out something to do before the exchange to calm any nerves you’re feelings, and something after to focus on yourself or the kids, such as going to a park or doing a fun activity

Planning for After You Leave

  • Alert anyone you can about the situation: school authorities like the counselor, receptionist, teachers and principal, sports instructors, and other caretakers
  • Talk to these people about what’s going on, EX. If you have a protective order or restraining order, who is allowed to pick them up, etc.

How to Have These Conversations

Let your child know that what’s happening is not their fault and that they didn’t cause it. Let them know how much you love them and that you support them no matter what. Tell them that you want to protect them and that you want everyone to be safe, so you have come up with a plan to use in case of emergencies. It’s important to remember that when you’re safety planning with a child, they might tell this information to the abusive partner, which could make the situation more dangerous (ex. “Mom said to do this if you get angry.”) When talking about these plans with your child, use phrases such as “We’re practicing what to do in an emergency,” instead of “We’re planning what you can do when dad/mom becomes violent”

If you have any questions about safety planning or want an advocate’s help in developing a personalized safety plan for your child, give us a call at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233).

help a coworker

How to Help a Coworker Who Is Experiencing Abuse

Approximately 74% of employed domestic violence victims are contacted or harassed by their abusers while they are at work. Based on this statistic alone, it is possible that during your professional career, you may encounter a coworker who is experiencing domestic violence.

If someone is experiencing abuse at home, the effects of the abuse are likely to carry over into the work environment as well. You may notice changes in their behavior at work that could indicate that something is wrong. For instance:

  • Excessive lateness or unexplained absences
  • Frequent use of ‘sick time’
  • Unexplained injuries or bruising
  • Changes in appearance
  • Lack of concentration/often preoccupied
  • Disruptive phone calls or personal visits from their partner
  • Drops in productivity
  • Sensitivity about home life or hints of trouble at home

Follow your instinct, and if you feel like you should talk to them about what might be going on, do so. The worst that could happen is that they don’t want to talk – and even then, they at least know that you care. There’s no harm in asking. Work may be the one place where they can talk to someone safely without the abusive partner finding out. Also, your coworker may believe that you are more objective to their situation than family and close friends.

Be sure to approach them in a confidential manner, at a time and place without interruptions. When approaching the topic of domestic violence with your coworker, remember to be nonjudgmental. They may be embarrassed by the situation, and you might be the first person they are telling. Consider starting with a simple comment and question like, “You seem a bit preoccupied/stressed. Do you want to talk about it?” Give them the space to share what they want to share with you. Don’t pressure them.

If your coworker does open up to you about the abuse, listen and refer. Your role is not to fix the problem for them – sometimes, listening can be the most helpful. You might want to pass along some information to them. If it feels appropriate, pass on the number of the Hotline. We can help your coworker safety plan around their current situation and can refer them to local service providers.

If your coworker gives you permission, you can help them document the instances of domestic violence in their life. Take pictures of injuries, write down exact transcripts of interactions, make notes on a calendar of the dates that things happen. Documenting the abuse might help the victim to obtain legal aid later on.

If your coworker has been open with you about their situation, you can help them learn about their rights. Women’s Law is an excellent resource for information on domestic violence laws and procedures. Browsing this website with your coworker or giving them the link can provide them with crucial information.

Introduce them to the security guard, or volunteer to meet the security guard with them if they’d like help. Keeping the security guard at the office in the loop can help deter your coworker’s abuser from stopping by, make sure your coworker is escorted safely to and from the office space, and more.

Ask if they’d like to create a safety plan for their work environment. Ask what they would like you to do if their partner should call or stop by the office. If you’re having trouble coming up with a safety plan on your own, call The Hotline for assistance.

Above all remember that just supporting your coworker no matter what can make a difference. Respect their decisions – you may not know all of the factors involved. Your coworker may not do what you want or expect them to do. Instead of focusing on being the one to solve the problem for them, focus on being supportive and trustworthy in their time of need.

what is safety planning

What Is Safety Planning?

Safety planning is an important aspect of how advocates at The Hotline help callers protect themselves emotionally and physically in an abusive relationship.

what is safety planning

A safety plan is a personalized, practical plan that can help you avoid dangerous situations and know the best way to react when you are in danger. This plan includes ways to remain safe while in the relationship, planning to leave, or after you leave. Safety planning involves how to cope with emotions, tell friends and family about the abuse, take legal action, and more. We safety plan with victims, friends and family members — anyone who is concerned about their own safety or the safety of another.

Although some of the things that you outline in your safety plan may seem obvious, it’s important to remember that in moments of crisis your brain doesn’t function the same was as when you are calm. When adrenaline is pumping through your veins it can be hard to think clearly or to make logical decisions about your safety. Having a safety plan laid out in advance can help you to protect yourself in those stressful moments.

Safety planning looks different for different types of abuse. You safety plan should be tailored to your specific situation.

Physical Violence
If your partner is physically violent, identify the places in your home that are the safest — places where there are no weapons and where there is an easy escape point — and try to get there in the case of an argument. Try to avoid violence if at all possible by leaving. If leaving seems unsafe and violence is unavoidable, make yourself a small target. Go to your safe spot and curl up in a little ball, protecting your face by wrapping your arms around each side of your head and entwining your fingers.

Emotional Abuse
If your partner is emotionally abusive, stay connected to a support network. Friends and family members can be great allies in times of need and can build you up. If you feel comfortable, talking to someone about what is happening can help you stay positive. Try to stay involved in all of the activities that you love or develop new hobbies. Keep a journal of all of the good things in your life and all of the things that you like about yourself. Make a list of things that help you to relax (like taking a warm bath) and do them one by one until you feel calm and relaxed.

If you’ve left the relationship, emotional safety planning may look different than what it would be if you were still in an abusive situation. Leaving a relationship is one of the most dangerous times for victims emotionally as well — it’s normal and expected that you’ll be encountering new feelings (ex: loneliness, struggling with being uprooted, difficulty adjusting to a new life). Our advocates are here for you during this challenging time.

Safety Planning with Children
If you have children, they need to become part of your safety plan — planning for both their physical and emotional safety. If you’re in a physically abusive relationship, don’t run to them when your partner becomes violent. This could potentially put them in danger. Teach them how to get help, but instruct them not to interfere with any arguments that are happening. You can work with them to come up with a code word that will let them know when they need to leave the house or hide to protect themselves. You can also practice how to safely exit the home with them.

If you trust your friend and/or neighbors, develop a system to let them know when violence is occurring and you need help. Your kids can go to their house to stay safe, they can call the police and you can stash an overnight bag there for quick getaways. Check back on the blog in the future for more information on comprehensive safety planning with kids.

Remember that at all times, your safety is the utmost priority. If you need help safety planning, don’t hesitate to give us a call at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233).

sexual violence media

Sexual Violence in the Media: #TweetAboutIt

As part of Sexual Assault Awareness Month, the National Sexual Violence Resource Center has organized weekly #TweetAboutIt Tuesdays focused on various topics related to sexual assault. Today we joined in on the conversation hosted by reporter Tara Murtha and the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape to discuss sexual violence in the media.

What’s a Twitter Chat?
A TwitChat is a conversation that takes place on Twitter, often hosted by an organization or a group with a common interest, to discuss a topic (like sexual violence in the media). There’s generally a hashtag (#) involved, so that anyone can click the hashtag, see what others are saying and follow along. Anyone can join in – simply start tweeting using the hashtag, and you’re part of the conversation. Take part in another SAAM TwitChat organized by NSVRC next Tuesday at 2PM by using the hashtag #TweetAboutIt.


Sexual Assault Awareness Month

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month (#SAAM)

Every two minutes, someone in this country is sexually assaulted. On average there are 207,754 victims of rape and sexual assault each year.

This April, join us in acknowledging and promoting Sexual Assault Awareness Month. All across the country, people are taking a stand and promoting the prevention of sexual violence through educational speaker series, campaigns, online days of action and other events.

One of the most common misconceptions about sexual violence is that it involves a stranger. In reality, among female rape victims for example, 51.1% of perpetrators are reported to be intimate partners and 40.8% are acquaintances.

In a relationship that may be displaying signs of abuse, it’s not unlikely that sexual abuse or sexual coercion may be present. Like physical violence, sexual violence helps a batterer gain a sense of power and control. Sexual assault is any nonconsensual sexual act, physical or verbal, that goes against the victim’s will. It almost always involves a use of threat or force.

Coercion can take on many different forms. EX: Making a partner feel obligated to have sex (“Sex is the way you prove your love for me”) or reproductive coercion (tampering with or withholding birth control; pressuring you to become pregnant).

Have you or someone you know experienced any of the signs mentioned above? Call The Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE to speak confidentially with an advocate. We can help you learn more about healthy relationships, consent, and types of coercion. We can safety plan with you at any stage, whether you’re questioning something going on, experiencing ongoing abuse, or otherwise.

You can also call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE, the National Sexual Violence Resource Center at 1-877-739-3895, or use RAINN’s Online Hotline.

Educate Your Community

Advocate at your local school for further education about healthy relationships. Speak at a board meeting and hold an informational meeting with parents, teachers and others interested in the issue.

Discuss consent – with your children, with your family, with your partner. The absence of a “No” never equals a “Yes.”

Speak Out Against Sexual Violence

Make your voice heard. Join #SAAM Tweet Ups every Tuesday of the month for different discussions about child sexual abuse prevention and how adults can promote healthy development.

Donate your social media accounts to the cause. Visit the National Sexual Violence Resource Center for downloadable logos, posters and images for Twitter and Facebook, education tools and other resources.

Volunteer at your local rape crisis center.

Read More

AAUW: Sexual Harassment

RAINN: Get Information

1 in 6: Info for Men

SAFER: Info about Campus Sexual Assault

Circle of 6 App: Healthy Relationships Toolkit

Men Can Stop Rape: Get Information