In an emergency
If you or your children are frightened and in any danger, phone the police on 999.
You can phone 999 any time, day or night. It is free to phone this number. You can phone it even if you have no credit on your phone.
Also teach your children how and when to phone 999.
Tell someone about the abuse
People who abuse are even more powerful if no-one knows about the abuse. They may have threatened to hurt you or your children or family if you tell anyone.
Telling someone can help you be safer. It means they can look out for you. Although it is frightening, there are people (such as Shakti) who understand your fears and can help you to be safer.
Think about who you tell. It should be somebody who you can trust. If they do not believe you or they make excuses for the abuse, tell someone else.
Plan for safety
Think about what will keep you safe if you are:
- Living with whoever is abusing you.
- Planning to leave.
- Have already left and live apart from whoever has abused you. Often women are still not safe although they have left whoever is abusing them.
Shakti can help you with your plan.
You can write down your plan but it may be safer to memorise it. Some things to think about are:
- Who can you trust? If you need to leave in a hurry, is there a neighbour or friend you can go to if you need to? Write down or memorise their phone numbers. Memorise 999 for the police and also Shakti’s number.
- What is the safest and quickest way for you to get out of the house if you need to? If you are being hurt, what is the safest room for you to be in? Where is safest in that room? The kitchen is not safe because there are knives in it.
- Where is the phone kept?
- Is there a secret signal you can make to your children or anyone else to show that you need them to phone the police or get help?
If you are planning to leave
If you need to get away in a hurry, just leave and take your children with you. Everything else can be replaced. And you can go back for belongings another time with police help.
If you are able to plan ahead, safely:
- Put aside, or try to make copies of, any important papers like birth or marriage certificates and passports (for you and your children); immigration, legal and financial papers; bank cards; or write down any serial numbers. Put these papers somewhere safe (out the house with a friend if possible).
- Pack an overnight bag for you and any children and hide it somewhere (for example with a friend).
- Try to put a little money aside for buses and taxis; spare house and car keys; a mobile phone, fully charged with credit; any spare prescribed medicines. Put these things in the bag.
Some information about risk
It may help to know something about risk. If you know about the things which can increase risk then you can think about what could help to keep you safe and who to ask for help. You are the best person to know how the person abusing you behaves. But some things which may increase risk to any woman living with domestic abuse are:
- You are threatening to leave or have recently left.
- You are pregnant or have recently had a child.
- The abuse has been getting worse or is happening more often.
- He is using a weapon to hurt you.
- He is threatening to kill you and/or himself.
- He receives a letter, for example from your solicitor.
- He has mental health issues and his symptoms are getting worse.
- He is using alcohol or drugs excessively.
- He/your family have planned an unexpected trip for you to their ‘home country’.
- He is refusing to apply for your visa.
None of these are excuses for abuse or reasons to stay or put up with abuse. They are things to be aware of that could mean increased risk to you.
If you think someone is planning to take you abroad, get advice immediately.
If you are still in the UK, you can contact the police (phone 101 or 999 in an emergency), Shakti, social work, school guidance teacher, college or university student adviser. You can also contact the UK Government Foreign and Commonwealth Office for advice. Click here to link to its website.
If you are at risk of forced marriage, you can contact the Forced Marriage Unit for help. Click here to link to its website.
If you have one, always try to travel on your British passport. If possible, try to keep a copy of your passport, visa, money, addresses and phone numbers of your destination hidden with you and/or someone you trust.
If you are overseas, contact the nearest British Embassy or Consulate. Click here for contact details.
If you are not British, then the British Embassy or Consulate may not be able to help you as they would a British national. You may wish to contact someone in the UK such as a lawyer or social work. Shakti can give you phone numbers to try.
If your children have been taken abroad, contact Reunite for advice. Click here for Reunite’s website.