Skip to main content

Family Justice Center

How to Stay Safe

If you (or someone in your family) is a victim of domestic violence, it is important that you create a personalized safety plan to remain safe. Even if you are feeling safe right now, it is always a good idea to plan ahead. Be sure to share your safety plan with someone you trust that can help you to implement your safety plan should it become necessary. Please click on the scenario that best applies to you: (each to link to that scenario on page)


Safety Plan for Protective Order Cases

  • The period after an Interim, Temporary, or Final Protective Order has been served on the respondent (your abuser) is the most volatile time for both you and your family. It will be very important that you set up a safety plan. Listed below are a number of suggested strategies that you could follow:
  • Call 911 if the respondent violates the order by contacting you, coming to your residence, work, or school or to the residence of a family member. If the respondent comes by or calls you, do not talk to him or her, CALL THE POLICE (911) . The respondent may be arrested for violating a court order.

  • Secure your house: change the locks; add deadbolts; add safety locks on the windows; secure sliding glass doors.
  • Keep a charged cell phone with you at all times. Someone at the FJC can provide you with a cell phone if you don’t have one.
  • Screen your calls by using caller ID.
  • Check outdoor lighting - leave lights on.
  • Keep your car doors locked at all times - check the area inside and around the car before entering.
  • Inform neighbors and your landlord that the respondent no longer lives with you and that they should call the police if they see the respondent or their car near your home. Remember that your residence includes yards, grounds, outbuildings, and common areas surrounding the dwelling. Provide your neighbor with a copy of your order.
  • Have a friend stay with you or move in with a friend or relative for a while. Know the location and phone number of the 24 hour Crisis Center (1301 Piccard Drive, Rockville 240-777-4000) in case you need to seek shelter for you and your children.
  • Tell your children not to open the door for anyone.
  • Keep a copy of the Interim, Temporary or the Final Protective Order with you at all times. If you have children, give a copy of the order to the school Principal or your day care provider, and anyone who cares for your children.
  • At work, inform your supervisor and building security of your situation. Ask someone to walk you to and from your car daily.
  • It is important for you to remember that a Protective Order is only the first step in the process to protect you and your family. It is up to you to come up with a daily safety plan. Be consistent and stick to it.

Safety Plan after the Arrest of an Abuser

The period after an arrest may be a difficult time for both you and your family. It will be very important that you set-up and follow a safety plan. Listed below are a number of suggested strategies that you could follow:

  • Call 911 if the defendant violates the conditions of bond by contacting you, coming to your residence, work, school, or the residence of a family member. If your abuser comes by or calls you, do not talk to him or her, CALL THE POLICE (911) . The defendant may be arrested for violating a court order.
  • Secure your house- change the locks; add deadbolts; add safety locks on the windows; secure sliding glass doors.
  • Keep a charged cell phone with you at all times. Someone at the FJC can provide you with a cell phone if you don’t have one.
  • Screen your calls by using caller ID.
  • Check outdoor lighting- leave lights on.
  • Keep your car doors locked at all times, check the area inside and around the car before entering.
  • Inform neighbors and your landlord that the defendant no longer lives with you and that they should call the police if they see the defendant or defendant’s car near your home. Remember that your residence includes yard, grounds, outbuildings, and common areas surrounding the dwelling. Give them copies of your Protective Order if you have one. If you do not have a Protective Order, contact the FJC (240-773-0444) for advice and assistance in obtaining one.
  • Keep a copy of the Interim, Temporary or the Final Protective Order with you at all times. If you have children, give a copy of the order to the school Principal or your day care provider, or anyone else who cares for your children.
  • Have a friend stay with you or move in with a friend or relative for a while. Know the location of the 24 hour Crisis Center (1301 Piccard Drive, Rockville 240-777-4000) in case you need to seek shelter for you and your children.
  • Tell your children not to open the door for anyone.
  • At work, inform your supervisor and building security of your situation. Ask someone to walk you to your car daily.
  • It is important to remember that an arrest and Protective Order is only the first step in the process to protect you and your family. It is up to you to come up with a daily safety plan. Be consistent and stick to it.
  • Register with VINE by calling 866-634-8463 or by going to VINE on the web to be advised of the defendant's release.

Safety Plan for If You Are Living With Your Abuser

  • Call the police (911 ) if danger is escalating.
  • Tell a neighbor, co-worker, friend or family member about your situation and ask them to call the police if you or your children are in danger.
  • Teach your children how to DIAL 911 and rehearse what they need to say.
  • If you have access to a cell phone, keep it handy at all times and know your location so you can call the Police if you are threatened.
  • Keep the Domestic Violence Hotline number available (240-777-4000) should you need assistance or guidance other than Emergency Police protection or intervention.
  • Educate yourself about the Protective Order and other legal options. You can call or visit the FJC for more information about your options.
  • Educate yourself about shelters and resources available to battered persons. Know what’s available before an emergency arises!
  • During an argument, stay out of the rooms where you know there are weapons such as guns, knives, tools, etc. Police may remove firearms when responding to domestic violence calls if the firearm is in view.
  • When the police arrive, stay calm and describe the incident as clearly as possible.
  • Keep an extra car and house key in a separate and secret place outside the home.
  • Plan where you will go if you have to leave in a hurry. For example: a shelter, a friend’s home, or a family member’s residence or even the Police Station.
  • Be sure to have copies of all important documents, e.g. birth certificates, marriage license, passports, alien cards, tax returns, bank statements, bank checks, savings accounts, medical insurance information, legal documents, and keep them in a safe place outside the home.
  • Keep an “Escape Bag” with a little money, clothing, toys for the children, snacks, important telephone numbers, and anything else you may need. Critical items such as eyeglasses, contact lenses, medication, appointment calendar, and updated pictures of your children might also be helpful. Put it in a place where it cannot be found by the abuser—perhaps with a friend, neighbor, or at your workplace.

Safety Plan for If You Are Not Living with Your Abuser

  • Call the police (911) if you don’t feel safe.
  • Change the locks to your residence if the abuser has a key.
  • If you have a Protective Order, keep a copy with you at all times and call the police if the abuser violates the Order. Give a copy of your Protective Order to schools, daycare providers, a supportive neighbor, family or friend, and your workplace. Be sure they know to call the police if the abuser violates the order.
  • Get an answering machine with caller I.D. to screen your telephone calls.
  • Ask a work colleague or guard to escort you, on a daily basis, to your car, bus or train after work.
  • Inform daycare centers, sitters and schools as to who has permission to pick up your children.
  • During exchange of children for visitation, arrange to meet in a public place such as a police station, a library, inside a shopping mall (but not in a parking lot), or at a family member’s home. It’s generally not a good idea to have visitation in your home without some other means of security available.
  • Do not allow the abuser into the home if he doesn’t live there. Tell your children not to open the door to anyone.
  • If you are receiving harassing telephone calls, dial *57. This will activate the telephone company’s CALL TRACE SERVICE. If the abuser leaves threatening messages on your machine, keep them.
  • Keep a journal documenting any harassment, incidents of abuse or threats. Include photographs of injuries and any damage to your property. Maintain a list of witnesses, if any.
  • If your abuser is in jail, keep informed of his status. Register with VINE by calling 866-634-8463 or by going to VINE on the web to be advised of the defendant's release. If he is on Probation, be sure you know the Probation Agent’s name and telephone number.
  • If your abuser violates his probation by contacting you in any way, contact his probation agent immediately. If you do not receive a response from his agent, call the State’s Attorney’s Office and ask to speak with a member of the Family Violence Division.

 

Go Top