Finding a Safe Place to Go
If you are thinking of leaving an abusive relationship, it's important to have a safe place to go. This article presents some options and considerations when identifying potential safe places. It's essential to evaluate each option carefully, considering factors such as confidentiality, security, and access to necessary resources. Creating a safety plan tailored to your specific circumstances can help ensure a smoother transition to a safe environment.
Options for safe places to go:
Stay with a trusted friend or family member
Staying with a trusted friend or family member is one option to consider. Seek out a trusted friend or family member who understands your situation and can provide support until you can find a new place of your own. If you choose to stay with a friend or relative, you should make sure that the home is secure (all the doors and windows have working locks, etc.) so that you and your friend or family member are safe.
Stay at a community domestic violence shelter
If you don’t have a friend or family member that you can stay with, a domestic violence shelter in your community may provide a safe place to stay while you find a new place of your own. Shelters are generally very secure and are usually in a confidential location, so that your abuser cannot find where you are staying. Most shelters offer counseling and some offer help with jobs and health care. Some shelters have rooms for women and children. Living in a home with others who have gone through similar situations may provide you with comfort and emotional support.
211 Maryland’s domestic violence shelter directory may help you find an organization in your county that can help. You can also call the National Domestic Violence Hotline, 800-799-SAFE (7233); or the National Sexual Assault Hotline, 800-656-HOPE (4673), 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Things to Consider:
- If you stay with a friend or family member, make sure the abuser does not know your friend or family member’s address. When you decide to go, make sure you do not leave an address book or correspondence behind that might help the abuser to track you down. The internet offers a number of ways in which an abuser can find an address if they have minimal information.
- Your computer use can be monitored by an abuser. There are ways for an abuser to access your email and to find out what sites you have visited. To ensure your safety, try to use a computer that the abuser cannot access (such as a public computer at a library, community center, or domestic violence organization).
- Be aware of location tracking. Your phone location may be accessible to an abuser. Likewise, check your bags for Bluetooth trackers like an Apple Airtag or Tile Tracker. Try also to check your vehicle for GPS tracking devices (look for small boxes that look out of place or unnecessary).
- Try to change your address with billing companies directly. If you leave a forwarding address at the post office, it may be used to find your new address.
- It’s good practice to assume that anything you put on the internet can be seen. Be careful about what you post. Consider the pictures you post online and any status updates that might indicate where you are or where you are headed. Try to not post anything that can reveal your whereabouts and your future plans, which can lead to someone finding you.
- If you fear that the abuser will go looking for you, consider joining the Maryland Safe at Home Address Confidentiality Program (ACP). The ACP can provide you with a legal substitute address that you can use in place of a home, work, or school address. The program also provides a mail forwarding service to forward your mail to your confidential address.