If you leave your partner because of abuse, you may not want people to know the reason you left.
It is your decision whether or not you tell people that you have suffered domestic abuse; but if you believe you may still be at risk, it might increase your safety if you tell your family and friends, your children’s school, and your employer or college what is happening, so that they do not inadvertently give out any information to your ex-partner. They will also be more prepared and better able to help you in an emergency.
If you have left home, but are staying in the same town or area, these are some of the ways in which you might be able to increase your safety:
- Try not to place yourself in a vulnerable position or isolate yourself.
- Try to avoid any places, such as shops, banks, cafes, that you used to use when you were together.
- Try to alter your routines as much as you can.
- If you have any regular appointments that your partner knows about (for example, with a counsellor or health practitioner) try to change your appointment time and/or the location of the appointment.
- Try to choose a safe route, or alter the route you take or the form of transport you use, when approaching or leaving places you cannot avoid – such as your place of work, the children’s school, or your GP’s surgery.
- Tell your children’s school, nursery or childminder what has happened, and let them know who will pick them up. Make sure they do not release the children to anyone else, or give your new address or telephone number to anyone. (You may want to establish a password with them, and give them copies of any court orders, if you have them.)
- Consider telling your employer or others at your place of work – particularly if you think your partner may try to contact you there.
If you have moved away from your area, and don’t want your abuser to know where you are, then you need to take particular care with anything that may indicate your location; for example:
- Your mobile phone could be ‘tracked’; this is only supposed to happen if you have given your permission, but if your partner has had access to your mobile phone, he could have sent a consenting message purporting to come from you. If you think this could be the case, you should contact the company providing the tracking facility and withdraw your permission; or if you are in any doubt, change your phone.
- Try to avoid using shared credit or debit cards or joint bank accounts: if the statement is sent to your ex-partner, he will see the transactions you have made.
- Make sure that your address does not appear on any court papers. (If you are staying in a refuge, they will advise you on this.)
- If you need to phone your abuser (or anyone with whom he is in contact), make sure your telephone number is untraceable by dialling 141 before ringing.
- Talk to your children about the need to keep your address and location confidential.
- Victims of stalking and domestic abuse are now allowed to join the electoral register anonymously, so ensure they are not put at risk, and do not lose the right to vote.
Anyone wanting to register their details anonymously must provide evidence such as an order under the Family Law Act 1996 or the Protection from Harassment Act 1997. If an application is granted, the details that appear on the register only have a person’s electoral number and the letter N.