Don’t let your abuser catch you reading this story
April 19, 2006
By Eileen Curtis, Times Herald-Record
Why didn’t she just leave?
It’s what we ask when a woman is hurt or killed by her husband or boyfriend.
“It’s the wrong question,” says Michele McKeon, executive director of Safe Homes of Orange County. “The real question is, why didn’t he leave? Why do we blame the victim?”
In Orange County alone, five women were killed by their intimate partners between September 2004 and September 2005, says McKeon. One woman is missing.
Yet, despite the dangers, women still stay with the men who make them bleed.
They stay because leaving takes energy and self-esteem. Both qualities are drained by the abuser.
They stay because they don’t want to break up the family.
They stay because they blame themselves: “I shouldn’t have burned his eggs “¦ I shouldn’t have gone to the store without asking his
Most of all, women stay because they’re afraid that if they leave, they and their children will be killed.
Their fears are well-founded. “Women are 75 percent more likely to be killed when they’re getting ready to leave their abusers,” says Jitin Hingorani of the National Domestic Violence Hotline.
That’s why women need to plan ahead.
The first step is to call a local domestic violence hot line, says Kathleen Welby-Moretti, program director of Family Domestic Violence Services for Family of Woodstock. Counselors help each victim make a safety plan for her situation.
Here are 50 suggestions from local and national experts to consider before leaving.
We kept the suggestions general. Abusers read newspapers, too, and they are often on the lookout for any sudden changes a woman makes.
1 Call a local domestic violence hot line to come up with a safety plan before you leave. Call from a safe phone because your abuser can check phone records or press “redial” to find out who you called.
2 Identify all possible escape routes in your home.
3 Don’t take anything from the house that he’ll notice is missing.
4 Be careful about packing an emergency bag and hiding it in the house. Abusers are paranoid and may count the suitcases.
5 It’s not going to get better. It’s going to get worse. Call the hot line.
6 Don’t listen to people who tell you he snapped because he’s under pressure at work. He didn’t attack his boss.
7 If you tell a friend or relative you’re planning to leave, make sure it’s a person you’d trust with your life – because you ARE trusting that person with your life.
8 Be aware of your surroundings at all times.
9 Avoid areas in the house with potential weapons, like the kitchen or garage. Avoid rooms with only one exit.
10 Don’t listen when your abuser says he’ll change. Abusers are master manipulators.
11 Put some money aside, but don’t empty your bank account because your abuser will probably notice.
12 Abuse isn’t about anger; it’s about power and control.
13 Keep a cell phone in your pocket in case he disconnects the phone.
14 If you’re in danger, don’t fumble for phone numbers. Call 911.
15 If you can hide important papers or an extra set of keys, keep them in your desk at work or at a trusted friend’s house.
16 If possible, set up a visual signal with a neighbor who can call the police if you’re unable to get to the phone.
17 Keep guns and weapons locked away.
18 If violence is unavoidable, make yourself a small target. Dive into a corner and curl up into a ball with your face protected and arms around each side of your head, fingers entwined.
19 If possible, keep a set of car keys in your pocket.
20 Keep your prescriptions filled, but if you’re in danger, leave without them. You can fill prescriptions, including insulin, at a hospital. The police or local shelter will help you.
21 A battered women’s shelter isn’t prison. It’s a safe haven for as long or as short a time as you need it to be.
22 Don’t minimize his actions. He maximizes yours.
23 If he’s suicidal, take him seriously. He may kill himself and take you and your children with him.
24 If you are injured, go to a doctor or emergency room and report what happened. Ask that they document your visit.
25 If you can, acquire job skills or take courses at a community college.
26 Don’t wear scarves or dangling jewelry that could be used to strangle you.
27 Create several plausible excuses for leaving the house at different times of the day or night.
28 Be sensitive about badmouthing your abuser in front of your children. They may feel ashamed that they still love him.
29 Tell your children that violence is never right, even when someone they love is being violent.
30 Plan for what you will do if your abuser finds out about your decision to leave.
31 Know that your abuser can access your computer and find out about the sites you visited.
32 Don’t be afraid to call the police at any hour of the day or night.
33 Don’t listen to your abuser when he says the only reason he hurt you was because he was drunk. Not all hitters drink, and not all drinkers hit.
34 You are not to blame. You are the victim of a crime.
35 Tell your children they are not to blame.
36 If he gets violent, don’t run to where the children are. He may hurt them.
37 Teach your children how and where to get help.
38 Practice how to get out of the house safely with your children.
39 You may request a police escort when you leave.
40 Your kids’ baby books may be treasured items, but one Ulster County woman nearly lost her life when she went back to the house to retrieve them.
41 Once you leave, make sure your children’s school or day-care center knows, so your abuser can’t pick the kids up after school and take them away.
42 Keep a certified copy of your restraining order with you at all times. Inform your friends and neighbors that you have a restraining order in effect.
43 Don’t be ashamed to tell your employer about your restraining order. Ask if you can change your extension and shift.
44 Don’t travel the same route twice.
45 Reschedule standing appointments that your abuser knows about.
46 Don’t ever go back to him, no matter what he says or does.
47 Get Caller ID and an unlisted phone number.
48 Never sit with your back to the door.
49 Know that you made the right decision.
50 Don’t keep this list. Your abuser may find it. He may even read it. http://www.recordonline.com/archive/2006/04/19/features_gohealthy-19heabusemain-04-19.html