Hesperian Health Guides

Hesperian Health Guides

What to Do

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HealthWiki > Where Women Have No Doctor > Chapter 18: Violence Against Women > What to Do


Contents

Make a safety plan

Think about these things even if you do not think the violence will ever happen again.

A woman does not have control over her partner’s violence, but she does have choices about the way she responds to him. She can also try to plan ahead how she can get herself and her children to safety until the man stops being violent.

Safety before the violence happens again

  • Tell someone nearby about the violence. Ask that person to come or to get help if the person hears that you are in trouble. Perhaps a neighbor, male relative, or a group of women or men can come before you are seriously hurt.
a woman with a baby comforting a crying woman
Find someone you trust who can help you sort out your feelings and think about your choices.
  • Think of a special word or signal that will tell your children or someone else in your family to get help.
  • Teach your children how to get to a safe place.

Safety during the violence

  • If you can tell that he is going to become violent, try to have it happen where there are no weapons or objects that he can use to harm you, and where you can get away.
  • Use your best judgement. Do whatever you need to do to calm him down so that you and your children are safe.
  • If you need to get away from him, think about how you can escape. Where is the safest place to go?

Safety when a woman gets ready to leave

  • Save money any way that you can. Put money in a safe place (away from the house) or open a bank account in your own name so you can become more independent.
  • If you can do so safely, think of other things you can do to become less dependent on him, such as making friends, joining a group, or spending more time with your family.
a woman knitting
Do you have skills that you can use to earn extra money?
  • See if there are ‘safe houses’ or other services for women who have been abused. These are special places in some towns and cities where abused women and their children can stay for a while. Try to find out before you leave if there is one that you can get to.
  • Ask friends or relatives you trust if they would let you stay with them or lend you money. Be sure they will not tell your partner that you asked.
  • Get copies of important documents, such as your identification or your children’s vaccination records. Keep a copy at home and give a copy to someone you trust.
  • Leave money, copies of your documents, and extra clothes with someone you trust so that you can leave quickly.
  • If you can do it safely, practice your escape plan with your children to see if it would work. Make sure the children will not tell anyone.

If you leave

a woman talking
I wanted to leave my husband, but I did not have any money of my own. So my aunt let me help her sell things in the market. I also made some money by taking care of other people's children. After 2 years I had some money saved. So one day I took the children and left. Sometimes it is hard to live on the money I make, but not as hard as living with all the beatings.

If you decide to leave, you will need to be prepared for some of the new difficulties you will face:

Safety. The most dangerous time for a woman is after she leaves. The man has lost control over her and will usually do anything to get it back. He may even try to follow through on his threat to kill her. She must make sure she is staying in a safe place that he does not know about or where she is protected. She should not tell anyone where she is staying. He may be able to force them to tell him where she is.

Surviving on your own. You need to find a way to support yourself and your children. If you can stay with friends or family, use that time to get more education or learn job skills. To save money, maybe you can share a place to live with another woman who also was abused.

More Information
starting a support group

Feelings. All the things you need to do to set up a new life may feel like too much to face. You may feel scared and lonely because you are not used to being alone in a strange place. You may miss your partner—no matter what he did to you. When things seem very difficult, you may not remember how bad it really was before you left. Give yourself time to feel sad about the loss of your partner and your former life. Try to stay strong. See if you can find other women in the same situation as you. Together you can support each other.



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