Author: Lauren Kelli
Welcome to part two in the series “A Practical Guide for Handling an Abusive A**hole.” In part one, we discussed how to identify abusive behavior, now we move on to staying safe while in the company of your abuser.
Stay Safe (By Channeling Your Inner James Bond)
So by now you have identified your partner as an abuser, but what do you do now? You may not know how you want to handle your situation, so the key is to stay safe while you make out a plan, whether it be one for leaving or staying. Remember, you are dealing with a dangerous and violent individual and you must act accordingly. To really get into the mood (and maybe have a little fun), pretend you’re a secret agent or spy in a hostile environment that could explode in a gunfight any minute. Think like Bond, James Bond. If you feel like you’re being paranoid, you’re probably doing a good job.
The first safety measure is to make an emergency escape plan. Now, hopefully you would never have to use it; the ideal situation is to be able to leave before anything happens, to be able to recognize your abuser’s triggers and find an excuse to leave the house before the explosion occurs. But if you’re lucky enough to be able to get out every time, then please start buying lottery tickets. So even though it’s an unpleasant eventuality, it is bound to happen—you will be caught in the house during an episode and to stay safe, you need to have a plan that has already been worked out.
ê Develop an outside safety network of friends or relatives and establish a code word to use when you are in trouble. These are people that would take you into their home in an emergency, or pick you up, call emergency services for you, or aid you in any way in an emergency situation. Ideally, these would be people that are NOT mutual friends or relatives that are not loyal in any way to your abuser.
ê If you have children and they are old enough to be aware of what is happening, you need to first make it clear that their priority is for their and their siblings’ safety, it is NOT to protect you. Next, develop a code word (perhaps the same one that you use with friends and relatives) to use to let them know when to call for help or when to leave the house and get help.
ê Hide a spare set of car keys somewhere that is easily accessible; if possible keep the car fueled, unlocked, and facing toward the street.
ê Stash essentials, like clothes, money, food, chargers, emergency contact list, important documents in a bag and hide it either at a friend’s house or, if you can manage it, inside of your car.
ê Practice your escape plan with your children. See how long it takes for you to call out the code word, grab the keys, get in the car, and drive off. Of course, it will be different with the abuser there, but at least the movements will be familiar to you.
So you have your escape plan. But of course you have to be able to initially get away from your abuser to use it; that means you have to stay safe during the beginning of the incident to be able to have the option to leave.
ê Consider your location in the home. Avoid being in windowless rooms and those with only one entrance/exit. Especially take care to avoid rooms with potential weapons, namely, the kitchen. You do not want to be around sharp and heavy objects in an already dangerous situation.
ê Do not run to where the children are located.
ê Keep your hair up; do not wear scarves, long jewelry, or any other clothing that would make it easy for your abuser to hold on to you.
Make an escape plan, practice it, stay safe when the incident initially occurs, then get the hell out of there.
Sources and Resources
http://leavingabuse.com/ (AMAZING website, very thorough and explanatory. I highly recommend it)