You might have gathered the strength to finally escape a life of abuse, but before you do that, make sure you have a concrete safety plan.
The Department of Justice and Constitutional Development has shared a few tips on how to prepare your escape from an abusive relationship.
Develop an escape plan
Get an escape bag, pack all emergency items and store the bag safely or keep it with a trusted person. Make sure that you secure a place to escape to, that is unknown to the abuser.
Choose two rescue persons to alert whenever the abuse occurs. Clear every room of all harmful items. If unemployed, find ways of making an income.
Safety during a violent attack
Quickly move to a low-risk area or towards an escape route. Stay away from places like the kitchen where knives and other dangerous items are usually kept.
- Quickly grab your escape bag and escape, only when it is safe to do so.
- If injured, ensure that you get medical help and ask your doctor to record your injuries or take photos of the injuries.
- If sexually abused, ensure that you do not take a bath or dispose of any clothing items until all evidence is taken for DNA purposes.
Safety at your home
If you are not staying with the abuser, change door locks if the abuser has access to your house keys.
- Install or improve the security system in your house.
- Ask people you trust to call you or the police if they see the abuser entering your premises.
- Teach your children or domestic helper what to do if the abuser enters your premises.
When you live with the abuser
Avoid being alone with the abuser and teach your children or persons you stay with how to get help when a violent attack occurs.
- Quickly apply for a protection order.
- If necessary, ask the magistrate not to disclose your new residential address, or to allow the abuser to enter your shared residence or part thereof, for example, the main bedroom.
- Upon violation of the protection order, quickly report such violation to the nearest police station. Go to the police with a copy of the order and the suspended warrant of arrest.
Your emergency items:
Make sure that all your important documents are with you when you are planning your escape. These items include;
- ID book, driver’s licence/passport.
- Certified copy of protection order/maintenance number.
- Medical aid, hospital/or clinic card.
- Duplicate keys, taxi fee, or a bus/train ticket.
- Cash or bank cards, e.g. ATM, credit or cheque card.