There has been recent discussion on EmpowHer about women being in abusive relationships. I wanted to share a Safety Planning Checklist, as well as information about how to protect your computer use (deleting internet history, for example).
The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence Safety Planning Checklist
* Think of a safe place to go if an argument occurs - avoid rooms with no exits (bathroom), or rooms with weapons (kitchen).
* Think about and make a list of safe people to contact.
* Keep change with you at all times.
* Memorize all important numbers.
* Establish a "code word" or "sign" so that family, friends, teachers or co-workers know when to call for help.
* Think about what you will say to your partner if he\she becomes violent.
If you leave the relationship or are thinking of leaving, you should take important papers and documents with you to enable you to apply for benefits or take legal action.
Important papers you should take include social security cards and birth certificates for you and your children, your marriage license, leases or deeds in your name or both yours and your partner's names, your checkbook, your charge cards, bank statements and charge account statements, insurance policies, proof of income for you and your spouse (pay stubs or W-2's), and any documentation of past incidents of abuse (photos, police reports, medical records, etc.)
Protecting Your Computer use
If you think your abuser is monitoring your computer use, the safest bet is to access a computer at a friend's house or at the library. If you do use a shared home computer, there are several steps you can take to help maintain your privacy:
* Use a Web-based program for e-mail. Programs such as Outlook Express, Netscape Mail and Eudora store sent and received e-mails on your computer. A Web-based e-mail service is safer. Most of these services — such Gmail, Hotmail and Yahoo mail — offer free e-mail accounts.
* Store files on the Internet. You can store files online and access them from any computer. You can also store documents as attachments in e-mail programs, or Google has Microsoft Office applications that are stored online.
* Change your password often. Choose passwords that would be impossible to guess. The safest passwords contain at least six characters, both numbers and letters. Avoid easily guessed numbers and sequences.
* Clear your Web-browser history. Browsers such as Internet Explorer or Netscape Navigator keep a record of the Web pages and documents you have accessed. They also store graphics of images you look at. You can also use a program such as AbsoluteShield Internet Eraser or Speed Tracks Eraser to clear your Internet records.
* Clear your document history. Applications such as Word or Excel keep a record of edited documents. Don't store or edit any documents you don't want your abuser to see on a shared computer.
If you have a question or insight about abusive relationships, the current discussion is here.
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