How to plan in case of an emergency

Ensuring the safety of you and your children is essential. When living in an abusive relationship, you may minimize the violence, but you need to know that abuse often becomes more intense and dangerous over time. 

This is why it is important to have a protection plan – whether you live with your partner or are separated. Women who were victims of abuse by their ex-partners can still be harassed or experience new acts of violence after separation. Many people and resources are there to help you. However, in an urgent situation, a protection plan can help you react more easily and rapidly.

Here are some examples of protection measures you can take:

If you are no longer with your partner:

  • Notify your neighbours and your landlord that your partner does not live with you anymore and that they can call the police if they hear unusual noises.
  • If you haven’t moved since living with your ex-partner, it is best to change the locks.
  • Make sure that there is no way to get into your house (put pieces of wood to your windows).
  • Change your number to a confidential number so that it is not published in the phone book. This will entail costs.
  • If you need to see your ex-partner, arrange the meeting in a public place or be accompanied.
  • Establish children’s visitation in a neutral place.
  • Let the school or day care staff know who is authorized to pick up your children.
  • If you have to go to court, make sure that you are accompanied.
  • If your ex-partner harasses or abuses you, know that this is a criminal act and that you have the right to call the police and press charges.

If you are with your partner or if you return to him after having stayed at a shelter:

  • Make a plan about what to do and where to go if you are in danger such as a friend’s, a relative’s, a neighbour’s or a shelter.
  • Work out a code that can be used with someone you trust if you are in danger.
  • Open a bank account where you can deposit as much money as you can. Make sure the bank does not send any letters and statements to your home.
  • Remember or have the phone number of a woman’s shelter nearby.
  • Be aware of the signs that lead to a crisis situation or an explosion of violence from your partner so that you can leave before it occurs.
  • Don’t hesitate to call the police (9-1-1) if you feel that you are in danger.
  • If your children are old enough to understand and there is no risk that your partner will find out, tell your children of your plan and see how they can collaborate with you.
  • Do not leave the house without your children. If you have to leave temporarily, go back and get them as soon as possible. This will prove to be important for their custody. Get police escort if you fear there will be violence when you return home to get them. Remember that the police do not have the power to decide who will be able to keep the children. See a lawyer as soon as possible for custody.
  • Prepare a departure kit that you can hide in a safe place such as a neighbour’s, relative’s or friend’s house or somewhere where your partner will not find it. 

What to include in your departure kit:

  • legal documents – marriage certificate, deeds, mortgage, lease;
  • bank books, credit cards, debit card;
  • social insurance and medicare cards for yourself and your children;
  • Immigration papers;
  • Birth certificates for yourself and your children;
  • Keys for your home and car;
  • Medication for yourself and your children;
  • Money;
  • Clothing for yourself and your children;
  • Favourite toys/blankets/stuffed animals for your children;
  • Cherished items for you such as jewellery or pictures;
  • A list of important telephone numbers (friends, relatives, police, shelters, organizations, etc.)

Remember that you are not alone: wife abuse is a crime in Canada.