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Feature Article


Domestic violence: Staying safe

Ann Huey & Kim Leon, former State Extension Specialist, Human Development and Family Studies, University of Missouri; Jennifer Hardesty, Postdoctoral Fellow, School of Nursing, Johns Hopkins University


Safety during an abusive incident

There are some important things you can do to protect yourself during an abusive incident:

  • Go into a room or area that has access to an exit; not the bathroom, kitchen or anywhere near weapons.
  • Practice how to get out of your home safely.
  • Keep a packed bag ready and hidden in order to leave quickly.
  • Identify a neighbor you can tell about the violence and ask to call the police if he/she hears a disturbance.
  • Devise a code word to use with your children, family, friends and neighbors when you need the police.
  • Develop a plan for where you will go if you have to leave home (even if you don't think you will need to). Know the number of a shelter in your area you can call if you need a safe place to stay.
  • Use your instincts and judgment. If the situation is dangerous, consider giving the abuser what is necessary to calm him or her.


Safety when preparing to leave

Leaving may be difficult because abusers often escalate violence in order to keep their partners in the relationship. If abusers detect that their partners may leave, the chances that they will harm their partner increase.

Being prepared to leave an abusive situation can be the difference between success and failure:

  • Open a savings account in your own name. Think of other ways to make yourself more independent.
  • Leave money, an extra set of keys, copies of important documents, and extra clothes with someone you trust so you can leave quickly.
  • Determine who will let you stay with them or lend you money.
  • Keep shelter information and other important phone numbers close at hand.
  • Review your safety plan regularly in order to plan the safest way to leave your batterer.


If you or someone you know is experiencing dating violence, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or 1-800-787-3224 (TTY).


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Last Updated 10/12/2015