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Fact Sheet 3 - Planning for Safety

Fact Sheet 3 - Planning for Safety

The Lookout: Fact Sheet 3, Planning for Safety

Fact Sheet 3 - Planning for Safety

How can I be safer, whether I live with my partner, are planning to separate or have already separated?

  • Always have a safety plan
  • Tell someone about the abuse and ask for help

What can I do to be safer at the home I share with my partner?

Make a safety plan to avoid being hurt in an emergency. See 1800RESPECT’s safety planning information or a family violence service can help you. 

If you are in immediate danger, dial 000 and ask for the police.

Let supportive friends, family and neighbours know what is happening and keep a list of phone numbers for people who can help you in an emergency.

Agree with your support people on a code word or line, and call them if you feel threatened. Use a code that doesn’t alert your partner and keep it secret. 

Keep the phone numbers of family violence services safe by hiding them, or adding them to your phone directory under other names. 

Think of a story ahead of time that allows you to leave the house in a hurry if you feel frightened of your partner or family member.

Be aware of dangerous areas in your home e.g. kitchen, bathroom, shed or garage, where your partner may have access to weapons.

Think about escape routes and keep them clear. You may need to clear tools or toys from pathways or the sides of the house.

Tell your children as much as they need to know to be safe, but don’t ask them to keep secrets about future plans. Keep these plans to yourself until you are ready to put them in place.

Cover your tracks – your partner can push redial to find out who you have just called, or check your mobile’s call log or internet activities. When searching websites for help and information, use a computer outside your home, such as at a library, community centre, internet café or a friend’s place (link to technology safety info).

How can I be safer at work?

If you are working and it is safe to do so, tell your employer about the family violence. Many workplaces have special provisions. Even if yours doesn’t, your employer may give you leave to go to appointments during working hours so you can get advice and support without your partner’s knowledge.

Tell your employer if you have an intervention order. They should make sure key staff (reception, security, etc) are aware of it and that the work site is a safe place for you.

If you don’t want to receive phone calls at work from your partner or ex-partner, ask your employer to block or divert them in a way that keeps you safe.

Talk to your employer about anything you think may help you to continue to work and be safe, such as job sharing, increasing or decreasing your hours, changing rosters or working at another site.

How can I be safer after I’ve separated from my partner?

At home

Make a safety plan to avoid being hurt in an emergency. See the guide to making a safety plan at (link to Safety for Women booklet), or a family violence service can help you.

If you stay in your home, have the locks changed and consider installing security devices such as deadlocks, security screens, sensor lights and an alarm. You may be eligible for the Victims’ Assistance Scheme, which can cover the cost of changing locks. (Link to Victims’ Assistance Scheme) Some family violence services can help with the arrangements and costs to stay safe at home.

Ask the neighbours to be alert to any unusual activity around your house and to phone the police if they are suspicious.

Encourage everyone in the household to speak up if they have concerns about security or notice anything unusual. Ensure they all know the importance of maintaining security by keeping external doors locked, etc.

Have your mail redirected to another address or a P.O. Box.

Try to arrange off-street parking for your car and be alert when moving between your car and house. 

Keep shrubs and trees trimmed away from paths, doors and windows. 

Keep a record of any suspicious or threatening incidents (including saving any electronic contact such as texts, Facebook messages, etc) and call 000 if you fear for your safety.

If you have an intervention order

Report every breach of the order to the police and note the time, date and what happened for your own records. Keep copies of any evidence (phone messages, mail, emails, etc).

If you are not happy with the police response, call your local police station and ask to speak to the police family liaison officer in your area. A family violence service can help you if you are still not satisfied with the police response. 

Give copies of the intervention order to your children’s schools and pre-schools, and your employer. 

Your children

Speak to a lawyer about applying to the Family Court for residency (custody) of the children as soon as possible after you decide you will separate.

Arrange to hand over the children for contact with your ex-partner in a public place. If there is a history of violence, you might want to arrange for a supportive person to accompany you.

Speak to a lawyer if you are concerned about your or your children’s safety during contact visits.

Give copies of any residency and contact orders to your children’s schools and pre-schools. 

Make sure your children know which other adults they can talk to if they feel scared or upset.

Out and about

Keep your car and garage locked at all times. 

Keep a torch in your glove box and a personal alarm on your key ring (check the batteries regularly).

Park in well-lit public areas or in a secured garage.

Regularly vary your routines and where you shop.

Plan what you would do if you were followed in your car, on the street or on public transport. Take note of shops and amenities along your regular routes and think about where you might go for help.

If there is an emergency while you are out, activate your personal alarm and seek help from others. 

Your computer

If you suspect someone is tracking your movements and communication through your computer or phone, install anti-spyware and update it as needed.

Set up a new email account using a new password, and do the same for your children. You don’t have to answer security questions honestly as long as you always give the same answer (e.g. mother’s maiden name: pink pineapple, etc). With a new password and answers to security questions, you make it difficult for anyone to hack into your account.

Change all your passwords

Don’t open attachments unless you are sure they are safe. 

Social networking

Change your own and your children’s passwords.

Check privacy and security settings regularly: disable public search, check location settings, disallow friends’ ability to tag in photos, turn off all platform apps, untick ‘info accessible through friends’. 

Do not enter your location (e.g. when checking in)Disable geotagging settings on your cameras, including your phone, to prevent where and when information being attached to photos.

Make sure your friends and family understand the importance of taking security precautions in their own social networking to avoid your details being published. 

Carefully considering the implications of posting any personal information online. Think about who might see it and what they might do with it.

Be aware of impersonators and block unwanted people. 

Take screen grabs of abusive messages or harassment and report abuse.

Ensure your children understand and observe security precautions in their social networking activities. If the risk is very high, consider whether the whole family could take a break from social networking.

Your phone

Get to know and understand the privacy and security settings, and apps, on your and your children’s phones. 

By switching off cellular data, wireless internet, location tracking and Bluetooth, you can disable access to the internet and GPS, which prevents anyone from tracking your movements or communication. You will still be able to make and receive calls and SMS. 

Use a PIN (not one your partner is likely to work out) and change it regularly.

Turn off geotagging settings on your phone camera.

See the how-to videos on the SmartSafe website for more details on staying safe online and using your phone.

Centrelink

Centrelink has a security system for customers whose records require extra care. Tell them about your situation. 

You may be eligible for a crisis payment from Centrelink if you apply within 7 days after separating from your partner because of family violence. 

Records

If possible, close your bank accounts and open new ones.

Ask the Australian Electoral Commission to remove your name and address from the published electoral role.

Advise your local police station of your situation so they are wary of the need to look for you if someone reports you as a missing person. 

It is possible to change your identity. Get free information free from a community legal centre or the Department of Births, Deaths and Marriages.

Other tips

Avoid regular appointments your ex-partner may know you attend.

Let others (schools, doctors, lawyers, counselors, etc) know about the importance of keeping your information safe. 

REMEMBER: You have the right to make you and your children safer and to seek protection from the police and courts when you need it

Some content adapted from Domestic Violence Prevention Centre Gold Coast Inc, and My Safety Plan by the Western Integrated Family Violence Partnership.