It is not easy to leave a violent relationship. The aggressor either does not admit how severe his behaviour is, or promises to change if he is forgiven and supported by the family. Most of the times, he uses emotional blackmail and blames other persons for the current situation of the family.
Regardless of the control strategy that the abuser applies, the victim should know that she has the right to dignified life, that there are institutions and non-governmental organizations which may help her solve the crisis. There are available resources for abused and beaten women, including shelters, training centres for specialization in a profession, legal services and child care.
- The abusing partner may not change by himself, without the help of professionals. He should assume full responsibility for his behaviour, should look for professional treatment and should cease blaming the victim, his unhappy childhood, the stress at the work place, alcohol or his volcanic temperament inherited from his parents.
- The victim does not have the power to change the aggressor. By staying and continuing to accept repeated abuses, hoping that he would eventually realize that he was wrong and he would change, the victim consolidates his conviction that he may do more. The victim’s patience contributes, in fact, to the perpetuation of the problem.
- Promises of change have no value if they are not kept. Even if the abuser attends psychological counselling, there is no guarantee that he will change. After the end of the therapy hours imposed by the victim or by a judge, many abusers continue to be violent.
- If violence ceased and the aggressor says that he is sorry, this is a good sign. The victim should decide depending on whom and how the aggressor is at that time, not depending on whom she hopes that he would become.
Regardless of whether the victim decided to stay or leave the abusing partner, there are several measures which may confer her a higher level of personal safety. Here are some recommendations made together with the representatives of the “Necuvinte” Association:
Be prepared for emergency situations!
- Be aware of the signs triggering the abuse and, before starting a new violent crisis, use any reason to go away from him and get out of the house.
- Identify the safe areas of the house where you may take refuge if a quarrel or a possible attack may not be avoided. Avoid small spaces or spaces without escape or rooms with potential weapons (like the kitchen). If possible, choose a room with a telephone and an exit room or a window.
- Set a code (word, phrase, signal) by which you warn your children, friends or neighbours that you are in danger, so that they call the police for help.
Make an escape plan!
- Be prepared to leave the house in case of need. If you have a car, make sure that it is always fuelled and parked in a place from where you may exit immediately. Keep a spare key of the car for yourself, a minimum amount of money for emergency, clothes, important telephone numbers and your identity documents and the children’s identity documents hidden in a safe place (in a friend’s house, for instance).
- Repeat the quick exit under safety conditions several times. If you have children, show them, as a game, what they have to do. Repeating it will make your exit easier if your are attacked by the aggressor.
- Try to memorize a list of emergency contacts. Ask several persons that you trust if you may contact them in case of need to accommodate you for one night.
Get another mobile telephone!
It is possible that you are afraid to leave or to ask for help because your abuser will take revenge if he finds out. When you look for help against the abuse, it is important that you cover your traces, especially when using the telephone or the computer.
- Consider purchasing a prepaid sim card or another mobile telephone unknown by your aggressor.
- Use a prepaid telephone sim card. Remember that, if you use your home landline telephone, the telephone numbers called may be listed, upon request, on the monthly invoice which is sent to your home. Even if you already left, when the detailed invoice arrives at home, the aggressor may track you using the telephone numbers where you asked for help.
- Verify the settings of your mobile telephone. There are mobile telephone technologies that the aggressor may use in order to listen to your calls or in order to track where you are. So, close the telephone when you are not using it or no longer take it with you when you are running away from your aggressor.
Communicate safely on the internet!
Many times, the aggressors monitor the activities of their partners, including the use of the computer. While there are means to delete the internet browsing history, this may be an alarm signal for your partner that you are trying to hide something, so be very careful. In addition, it is nearly impossible to delete all evidence from the computer, the history of visited sites, etc., if you don’t know a lot about computers.
- If you search for help on-line, it is most safe to use a computer outside the house where you live. You may use the computer at your work place, the house of a friend, the library etc.
- Be prudent with the e-mails and messages sent. The aggressor might know how to access your account, he might already know your access password to your account. Consider creating a new e-mail account not known by the aggressor.
- Create e-mail accounts using new user names and passwords, change the passwords of the online banking services, as well as for other accounts. Even if you don’t think that the aggressor has the passwords, maybe he guessed them (your birthdays, the birthdays of your children, common names and dates) or he used a spyware or keylogging program in order to get them. Choose passwords that the aggressor may not guess (avoid birthdays, nicknames or other personal information).
Protect yourself against GPS supervision and recording devices!
The aggressor does not need to be an expert in technology so as to use the supervision technology in order to monitor your movements and to listen to your conversations. Be aware that the aggressor may use hidden cameras, such as “Nanny Cam”, or even a baby monitor in order to monitor you. The GPS devices, global positioning devices are also cheap and easy to use. The GPS devices may be hidden in the car, bag or other items that you carry with you. The aggressor may also use the GPS system of the car in order to see where you have been.
If you discover any tracking or recording devices, leave them there until you are ready to leave. Although it may be tempting for you to eliminate them or to shut them down, this will alert the aggressor that you found out about them and would make him even more suspicious regarding your intentions.
What do you do after your left?
Protecting yourself against the aggressor now, after you left, is as important as it was when you lived together. It might be necessary to move to a place where your former partner cannot find you. If you have children, it might be necessary to transfer them to another school.
In order to keep your location secret:
- Don’t list your telephone number - call the landline or mobile telephone company in order to request this.
- For invoices and correspondence you’d better use a post office box than your home address.
- Cancel your former bank accounts and credit cards, especially if they were joint accounts with the aggressor. Use another bank when you open new accounts.
If you stay in the same area as the aggressor, change your daily routine. Use another route to get to work, avoid places where you used to go together, where the aggressor may find you, look for other stores, markets to go shopping. Keep a charged mobile telephone with you all the time in case you will have to call 112.
ASK FOR HELP
What a victim of domestic abuse has to do if she was a subject to physical abuse:
- call 112 and ask for help if her life and health are in danger!
- take care of her health condition as a matter of emergency because the injuries suffered may have unexpected evolution and may quickly become severe.
- request medical-forensic examination and the issuance of a findings’ certificate. Such is issued against payment, its cost is subsequently recovered after winning in the lawsuit.
- in the case of a sexual aggression, not to change her clothes and not to wash herself, so as not to destroy the evidence necessary for forensic physicians.
- if the police is called at the domicile in order to establish an aggression and the items are disarranged, there are blood stains, the items should not be put back in order because the police agents have to investigate the crime scene as it is.
How can you help a woman of whom you know or you suspect that she is abused by her partner?
- Don’t judge her, don’t criticise her behaviour, offer her your help but don’t impose her to take any measure;
- Speak to her when the aggressor does not see this, so as not to tension even more the relationships between them;
- Listen to her and support her decisions;
- Be careful to accompany her when she decides to tell the aggressor that she wants to separate from him because this moment is the most dangerous. In case of a trial, witnesses are necessary, as well as concrete data regarding the acts of abuse suffered. For this purpose, the victim has to note any detail or person who may certify the existence of the aggressions and should complain to the police, should request the issuance of a medical certificate.
- If abused minor children are also involved - call the Police.
- Call 112 when the life or integrity of the victim (either adult or minor child) is in danger! It doesn’t matter that you don’t know the victim or that it was the first time that you saw her!
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