IF YOU NEED HELP NOW
- Call 911 and get to a safe place, if possible.
- Or call The Domestic Abuse Shelter hotline at (305) 743-4440. We are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. We have a variety of services that can help you stay safe and break free from emotional, physical, sexual and other kinds of abuse.
Sometimes it is difficult to measure the amount of danger you are in. It may seem like your partner wouldn’t hurt you, and yet s/he has. It is important for you to remember that it is not your fault, however, there are some things that you can do to get clearer on the situation.
Unless it is publicly displayed, you may not have all the information you need on your partner. While you may think you know what to expect and when to expect a violent outburst, the extent to which you are in danger may not be apparent.
A lethality assessment is a tool designed to help you get a better understanding of the level of danger you may be experiencing. It doesn’t give you a blueprint to map out the behavior of the person who is hurting you, but it can help you understand what you are up against.
When you are in a safe place, and not in any immediate danger, complete the following assessment (preferably together with a DAS advocate). After it is complete, use the lethality assessment to help you create a safety plan to ensure that you are in the least amount of danger possible.
Does your partner:
- Objectify you? (Call you names, body parts, animals, etc)
- Blame you for perceived injuries to him/herself?
- Seem unwilling to give you space? (hold you hostage or trap you?)
- Get jealous of you easily?
- Have a history of violence?
- Have a history of suicide attempts?
- Have an obsession with you?
- Get hostile or angry with you easily?
- Ever threaten to hurt your pets?
- Threaten you?
- Abuse alcohol and/or drugs?
- Have access to guns/weapons?
Answering “yes” to any of these questions is a red flag that you may be in danger. Typically, violence, whether verbal or physical, does not end on its own. Often it escalates, and becomes increasingly dangerous. If you have not already spoken to a DAS advocate, you may want to call the hotline at (305) 743-4440 to find out more about how we can help.
If you choose not to call, it is important to ensure first and foremost that you are safe. You may want to use our safety plan model to create a plan for yourself that will help minimize the danger and reduce your risk of injury.
What is a safety plan?
There is no single generic safety plan that can help minimize the danger you may be experiencing. Safety plans help lessen risk and can assist you in getting to a safe place if need be. They by no means ensure that you will be safe in a violent situation, but they can assist in the event of an emergency. While it may seem time consuming and tedious to prepare, a solid safety plan could save your life.
There are many different types of plans depending on your situation. Only you know what is best for you, so you can choose a type of plan that best suits your current needs. If you are not sure which kind is most suitable, you can prepare several and use them as necessary. Examples of safety plans include:
- A safety plan while in the home
- A safety plan with an Injunction for Protection
- A safety plan in the Shelter
- A safety plan for returning home
- A safety plan for preparing to leave
- A safety plan for work
- A safety plan for staying with family or friends
- A safety plan with children
HOW TO CREATE A SAFE PLAN FOR YOURSELF
DAS advocates are trained professionals, who can help you develop a safety plan. You can get in contact with an advocate by calling (305) 743-4440 any time of day, 7 days a week. If, however, you would prefer to create a safety plan on your own, remember that it doesn’t have to be very long or complicated. The plan is strictly for you, so don’t worry about grammar, penmanship or spelling. It’s a good idea to write it down, but it is crucial to keep it in a place where the person abusing you cannot access it. Here’s some questions and suggestions to think about:
- Have an emergency bag filled with a change of clothes, basic toiletries and copies of any relevant documents (driver’s license, check book, credit cards, etc.), and store it in a place that your partner cannot find it
- Identify and practice escape routes
- Know of places to go for a night, weekend or in case of a emergency
- Establish alternate routes to work, school etc.
- Get a cell phone
- Have emergency telephone numbers with you
- Get caller ID
- Have an alert system with neighbors and co-workers in case of an emergency
- If you have children, have a plan with the school or day care, and teach them how to call 911
- If you are in the house, know which rooms are safe to stand in with the abuser. (If possible, stand near a door when the abuser becomes angry; and avoid the kitchen, where knives and other sharp tools are easily accessible.)