GETTING OUT:

A Process Learned from the Courage & Wisdom of Survivors

The Getting Out Guide will help you identify the signs of an abusive relationship and how to leave a dangerous situation.

The Safety Planner offers guidance on what to take with you, where you can go, and who you can contact for help.

GETTING OUT cover green.png
SAFETY PLANNER cover green.png

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You can also view the Getting Out Guide and the Safety Planner by clicking the chapters below.

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If you are in danger, or require emergency services, call 911.

GETTING OUT

Creating Your Safety Plan


Leaving a relationship is a difficult decision. You may experience conflicting emotions. For example, you want the abuse to stop but you love and care for the abuser. You might feel scared, helpless, or that you deserve the abuse. You might feel embarrassed to admit that your relationship is in trouble. It is hard to admit you are being abused, but seeking help is important. Your safety plan is your guide to leaving the abuse. Your safety plan should include what you will take with you, where you can go, and who you can contact for help. While you should try to make your safety plan as solid as possible, leave some room for flexibility in case the situation changes. Sometimes things come up at the last minute. Having a backup plan and leaving room for change will make things easier.




Cards You Will Need


Carry in your wallet originals or copies of all the cards you normally use:

  • Social Insurance Number (SIN) card
  • Credit cards
  • Phone card
  • Bank cards
  • Health cards
  • Status card




Items to Carry With You


Try to keep your wallet, purse, or bag handy containing:

  • Keys for your home, car, workplace, safety deposit box, etc.
  • Cheque book, bank books/statements
  • Driver’s licence, registration, insurance
  • Address/telephone book
  • Picture of spouse/partner and any children
  • Emergency money (in cash) hidden away
  • Cell phone and charger
  • Extra medications and a list of medications and their dosages




Packing Your Go Bag


Have a suitcase available so you can quickly pack the following items:

  • Clothing for you and your children
  • Special toys and/or comforts for your children
  • Medications
  • Jewelry and items of special sentimental value
  • A list of other items you would like to take if you get a chance to return to your home to collect more belongings later




Pet Supplies


If you have pets, gather items you will need for their care:

  • Crate or kennel
  • Leash and collar
  • Food and water bowls
  • A small amount of food if possible (especially if your pet is on a special diet)
  • Any special toy or bedding that your pet enjoys
  • Pet licence or something to prove ownership of the animal




Important Documents


Make a photocopy of the following items and store in a safe place, away from the originals. Hide the originals someplace else, if you can.

  • Passports, birth certificates, Indian/First Nations status cards, citizenship papers, immigration papers, permanent resident or citizenship cards, etc., for all family members
  • Driver’s licence, vehicle registration, insurance papers
  • Prescriptions, medical, and vaccination records for all family members
  • School records
  • All income assistance documentation
  • Marriage certificate, divorce papers, custody documentation, court orders, protection orders, or other legal documents
  • Lease/rental agreement, house deed, mortgage documents




Other Considerations


  • Open a bank account in your own name and instruct the bank not to phone you. Access the statement online or arrange for it to be sent to a different location, such as to a trusted friend or family member.
  • Store documents in a safety deposit box at a bank that your partner does not go to.
  • Save and set aside as much money as you can (e.g., take a bit of change out of grocery money if/when possible).
  • Hide extra clothing, keys, money, etc., at a friend/family member’s house.
  • Decide where you are going to go and how you will get there (e.g., by taxi or getting a ride from a friend).
  • If you use mobility devices or other equipment to accommodate a disability, consider where you can rent or borrow any needed items.
  • Connect with an agency that can help you by contacting 211 Saskatchewan.




Finding Help


Call 2-1-1, text 2-1-1, web chat or search independently through sk.211.ca to connect with services and supports in your local area. Trained professionals are here to help you find community, non-clinical health, and government services – 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Over 175 languages, including 17 Indigenous languages, are available over the phone. Need Help? It’s just a click, call or text away. Phone: Dial 211 from a landline or cell phone Web Chat: Visit sk.211.ca/contact_us to start your chat Text: Text “Hello” to 211 Out-of-province phone call: Dial 1-306-751-0397




In an Emergency


  • If you call 911 from a landline, you can leave the phone off the hook after you have dialed the number and the police will come to your location. This can be particularly useful if you have any communication difficulties.
  • A 911 call is free from cell phones.
  • Even if the phone is not activated or out of minutes, you can still call 911. However, if you call from a cellphone, the police cannot tell where you are calling from, so be sure to give them your address immediately.
  • If the abuser interrupts while you are calling 911, a tip to remember is to talk to the operator like you are ordering take out food. This way you are still able to provide your location.
  • Remember that there is no charge when dialing 911 from a pay phone.
  • For TTY access (telephone device for the deaf) press the spacebar announcer key repeatedly until a response is received.
  • If you do not speak English, tell the 911 call-taker the name of the language you speak. Stay on the line while you are connected to interpreter services that will provide assistance in your language.
  • Try to remain on the line until the 911 call-taker tells you it is okay to hang up.
Cell phones and phone cards may be available free of charge to help you remain in contact with family and friends. The SaskTel Phones for a Fresh Start program is available for clients of domestic violence shelters and some family violence counselling centres. Ask your counsellor for further information about the program. Remember: You can call 911 from anywhere on a charged cell phone, even if the phone is not activated or is out of minutes. Always call 911 if you feel you are in danger.





Part 1: Is This Really Happening to Me?

What Might Change?


It is normal to feel many emotions after you’ve left. You might have "happy" feelings such as relief and empowerment and "sad" feelings like fear and loneliness. While you are happy that you left, you might also feel worried about where you will go from here. You might miss the good times you had with the abuser. Allow yourself to feel these emotions and recognize that they will not last forever. Change is Hard Leaving an abusive situation will bring many changes. You may not be able to go to the same stores, cafes, and hangouts that you are used to going to because the abuser still goes to these places. You might have to switch the grocery store you shop at, the gym you exercise at, or the parks you go to. Changing personal routines is common when leaving a relationship. Your circle of friends might change. Friends you have in common with the abuser may not be trustworthy and might tell the abuser where you are living, what you are doing, and how your life is going after you have left. Some can be a constant reminder of the abuse and might even push you to get back together with the abuser. Let go of these people to make room for others who will support you. There are many emotions you will experience as you work through this change. You will likely grieve the end of your relationship. You may feel anger, sadness, or regret, and think about the "what ifs." You may feel like you have lost something after you leave your relationship. The change will feel difficult and overwhelming at times. You may start to think that perhaps the situation wasn’t that bad or that you made a mistake. Talk to people in your support system who will remind you of the changes you want to make and encourage you to keep moving forward. Talk with service providers about support groups and other ways to keep moving forward. Connect with others who have left abusive relationships who can share their experiences and the difference it has made for them. One day at a time, things will become easier. "But I still have feelings for the abuser" Just because you have left the abuser does not necessarily mean you will stop loving or caring for that person. Sometimes, the hardest part about leaving is dealing with the loving feelings you may still have for the person who was abusing you. You might begin to remember the good times you had with the abuser and this might lead you to forget about the bad times. Acknowledge that you have good memories and enjoyed some good moments with the abuser but do not minimize the abuse and violence. After leaving, you might feel that you want to go back. Maybe you are having a hard time supporting yourself, caring for the children alone, feeling lonely, or want to feel loved and have someone there with you. It is unlikely that the abuser’s behaviour will improve if you return. If anything, the abuser may become more violent and abusive in an effort to control you and prevent you from leaving again. Remember, the abuse is not your fault and the abuser’s actions are not your responsibility.




Dealing with the Abuser


If possible, cut all ties with the abuser – no phone calls, messages via other people, letters, texts, emails, and so on. If you have to contact the abuser for whatever reason, such as discussing the children, keep the conversation to that topic. Before meeting with the abuser, prepare yourself. Talk to a trusted person in your support system about the emotions you are feeling. If it makes things easier, practice what you are going to say; decide the topics of conversation you are willing to accept and where you will draw the line. Consider taking someone with you when you need to meet with the abuser, especially if the abuser has ever threatened to kill you or themselves. This can be a friend, a family member, or another person from your support system. Meeting in a public place is another option. Having someone with you will make the meeting easier and help you to face the abuser, especially if you have recently left the relationship. It will also help to deter any harassing behaviours the abuser may try to use. If you still feel unsafe speaking to the abuser, consider communicating through a third party such as a family member or lawyer. If you have any concerns about your safety, do not meet with the abuser alone under any circumstances. Leaving the relationship is an important step in moving on and starting fresh, but can also be scary at the same time. The abuser has now lost the power and control that they held over you. It is important to continue to record any incidents with the abuser because it will help you to further build a case if you decide to report the abuse. The abuser might start calling you or sending threatening emails, texts, and voice messages. They may try to enter your home without your permission, follow you around as you run errands, harass you at work, or threaten your children at school. Keep track of everything. Contact the police if you feel you are in danger. Remember, you don’t have to put up with this behaviour any more. You have a right to feel safe.




Staying Safe After Leaving


Leaving an abusive situation can be dangerous. It is important to be aware of the possible dangers you may face after leaving and take some simple steps to help make sure you are safe at home, in public, and at work.

At Home

  • Keep your doors locked at all times. If you are not at home, close and lock all your windows.

  • Change the locks on your doors as soon as possible, especially if you live in a place that the abuser has access to. If possible, add locks to your windows and don’t forget to change the lock on the patio door.

  • If you have a yard, make sure to keep it well lit. Lock garages and sheds.

  • Consider installing a motion detector or security system in your home to keep you and your property safe at all times.

  • Consider telling your neighbours about your situation. Tell them that you’ve just left an abusive situation and ask them to keep an eye out for the abuser.

  • Install a peephole in your door so you can see who is on the other side.

  • If you rent, ask your landlord to help you secure your home. Do not put your name in the apartment/rental building directory.

  • Get an unpublished and unlisted phone number for your home and cell phone. Have your phone service provider block your number when calling out so that your phone number does not show on the caller display.

  • Don’t give copies of your keys to anyone unless you fully trust this person and know that they will keep the keys safe.

In Public

  • Carry your fully charged phone with you at all times. If you need immediate help, call 911.

  • Establish check-in times with your support system. Tell someone when you are leaving the house, where you will be going, and what time you will be back. Agree on what to do if they do not hear from you.

  • Develop a signal or code word that you can use with your support system in case of emergency situations. Let people know what to do if they see or hear this signal.

  • If you have a Peace Bond, Emergency Intervention Order, or custody order in place, carry a copy with you. If you need to contact police, you can quickly show them to confirm these orders so they can act. If you do not have a copy of this document, ask for one at the local court house. You may be asked for ID and have to pay for photocopying.

  • Consider changing your doctor, dentist, and other professional service provider if you and the abuser see the same one, or if your abuser knows which ones you see.

At Work

  • Consider talking to your employer about your situation so they can support you.

  • Provide your employer with a list of individuals to contact in case of an emergency.

  • Give your employer a picture of the abuser in case you are confronted by them at your workplace.

  • If you have a Peace Bond, Emergency Intervention Order, or custody order in place, provide a copy to your employer so they are able to protect you and other staff. If your employer needs to contact police, they will be able to share the orders with the police so they can act.

  • If you have concerns about your safety, park near the building so you can enter and leave work quickly and safely. Ask your employer to work with you in developing a safety plan for the workplace.

  • Victims of interpersonal violence are able to take five paid days and five unpaid days off work. The time away from work is to assist the victims of violence to take care of things such as finding a new place to live or attending court.

Social Media

  • Disable the location tagging on your social media profile page so that your location does not show up every time you post, comment, or share something.

  • Be aware that social media can be a way for an abuser to track your activity and to maintain contact with you. Consider not actively using social media if you have any concerns.

  • Increase the security settings in your own profile and your children’s so that it becomes more difficult to access your page.

  • If you or your children are friends with your abuser, "un-friend" and block them. You don’t need the added stress of having them look at your profile.

  • Clean out your friend list. There may be people on your friend list who are close to the abuser. The abuser can access your page and your information through these friends.

  • Do not post anything on your page that can tell someone where you are, where you are going, or what you are doing. Posts like "had a great time at the concert" or "heading out to visit Paula" can be used to track where you are.

  • Talk to your friends and your children’s friends and ask them not to post any pictures of you or tag you in any pictures or posts. Adjust your privacy settings so you have to approve when you are tagged in pictures or posts.

  • If you are sending messages through social media, private message people rather than posting publicly.

  • Do not accept friend requests from anyone you don’t know. It is very easy for the abuser to create a fake profile to keep tabs on you and your children.




Children's Safety


If you have children, you need to make sure that they are safe too. Taking extra steps for your children will help create the safe and loving family life they need and deserve. Here are some steps you can take to ensure the safety of your children:

  • Inform all the people you feel necessary (teachers, supervisors, coaches, school bus drivers, youth group mentors, etc.) about the abusive situation you have left and the need to keep your children safe. Show these people a photo of the abuser and make it clear that the children need to be protected from the abuser and what the conditions of their contact are.
  • Contact the daycare or school officials to clearly discuss and create a safety plan for the children. Include a list of people who can pick up the children, contacts to phone in case of emergency, and any code words that your children may use to describe a threatening or emergency situation.
  • Maintain regular communication with the daycare or school and keep everyone who needs to know up-to-date with changes to your plan.
  • If you have a Peace Bond, Emergency Intervention Order, or custody order in place, provide a copy to the daycare and school principal. This lets the school know what contact is acceptable.
  • Join a counselling or support group. Also many community based organizations have groups specific to children who have been exposed to violence.
  • Talk to your children and develop a safety plan that they can follow if they are in an emergency situation but you are not with them.
  • Teach your children how to call the police and any other family members or important people in your support system in case of emergencies.
  • Teach them to use the privacy settings on all social media.




Taking Care of Yourself


As you start rebuilding your life, it is important to take care of yourself and your personal needs. The abusive situation may have taken a toll on your self-esteem and you might find you are feeling lonely, depressed, and not very confident. Remember that the abuse was never your fault and you did nothing to deserve it. Feeling good about yourself is an important part of rebuilding your life. Boosting your self-esteem starts by thinking positive thoughts about yourself and your life. Building your self-esteem is an important part of moving on. This will take time and effort and does not happen overnight. At times, you might feel like you are on a rollercoaster ride of emotions. Make time to do things and activities that you love. Make a list of things that you enjoy doing (for example, "I love to go for walks, cook, fix things, write poetry, play video games, ride horses, play hockey, watch a movie") and make some time each week to do at least one thing on your list. Spending your free time doing things you love will help ease the stress and emotional hardships you might be facing while you rebuild your life. Life can be stressful and busy – remember to make time to relax and have fun! Maintain contact with your support system. When you’re in the midst of change, having supportive people in your life is essential. Your support system might include friends, family, and community members, or professionals such as counsellors and support groups. You might find resources online or at your local bookstore or library that can offer support as well. Rebuilding your life after leaving an abusive partner can be a challenge. At times you may find yourself feeling overwhelmed. Taking on too many things at once can lead to even more stress and you may find yourself giving up. Take things slow and plan out your days. A good idea is to start a log of daily, weekly, and monthly goals you want to accomplish, and the steps you are going to take to achieve these goals. Accept yourself. No one is perfect. Be gentle with yourself. You Can Do It! You can succeed. You deserve a life that is safe, healthy, and full of love. Over time you will find your hard work is worth it. This is a process of self-development and change. You will notice that you will develop new positive behaviours and attitudes. You will find that you are creating new celebrations and family traditions that you are sharing with those you love and who love you back – whether it be your friends, family, children, or yourself. Take a new picture of yourself with your friends, your family, your children, or on your own. Frame this picture and place it in a special place in your home. Notice the new life in your eyes. Realize that change is possible. You deserve love and abundance. You can rebuild your life, and find peace, health, and goodness.





Part 2: What Can I Do?

Creating Your Safety Plan


Leaving a relationship is a difficult decision. You may experience conflicting emotions. For example, you want the abuse to stop but you love and care for the abuser. You might feel scared, helpless, or that you deserve the abuse. You might feel embarrassed to admit that your relationship is in trouble. It is hard to admit you are being abused, but seeking help is important. Your safety plan is your guide to leaving the abuse. Your safety plan should include what you will take with you, where you can go, and who you can contact for help. While you should try to make your safety plan as solid as possible, leave some room for flexibility in case the situation changes. Sometimes things come up at the last minute. Having a backup plan and leaving room for change will make things easier.




Cards You Will Need


Carry in your wallet originals or copies of all the cards you normally use:

  • Social Insurance Number (SIN) card
  • Credit cards
  • Phone card
  • Bank cards
  • Health cards
  • Status card




Items to Carry With You


Try to keep your wallet, purse, or bag handy containing:

  • Keys for your home, car, workplace, safety deposit box, etc.
  • Cheque book, bank books/statements
  • Driver’s licence, registration, insurance
  • Address/telephone book
  • Picture of spouse/partner and any children
  • Emergency money (in cash) hidden away
  • Cell phone and charger
  • Extra medications and a list of medications and their dosages




Packing Your Go Bag


Have a suitcase available so you can quickly pack the following items:

  • Clothing for you and your children
  • Special toys and/or comforts for your children
  • Medications
  • Jewelry and items of special sentimental value
  • A list of other items you would like to take if you get a chance to return to your home to collect more belongings later




Pet Supplies


If you have pets, gather items you will need for their care:

  • Crate or kennel
  • Leash and collar
  • Food and water bowls
  • A small amount of food if possible (especially if your pet is on a special diet)
  • Any special toy or bedding that your pet enjoys
  • Pet licence or something to prove ownership of the animal




Important Documents


Make a photocopy of the following items and store in a safe place, away from the originals. Hide the originals someplace else, if you can.

  • Passports, birth certificates, Indian/First Nations status cards, citizenship papers, immigration papers, permanent resident or citizenship cards, etc., for all family members
  • Driver’s licence, vehicle registration, insurance papers
  • Prescriptions, medical, and vaccination records for all family members
  • School records
  • All income assistance documentation
  • Marriage certificate, divorce papers, custody documentation, court orders, protection orders, or other legal documents
  • Lease/rental agreement, house deed, mortgage documents




Other Considerations


  • Open a bank account in your own name and instruct the bank not to phone you. Access the statement online or arrange for it to be sent to a different location, such as to a trusted friend or family member.
  • Store documents in a safety deposit box at a bank that your partner does not go to.
  • Save and set aside as much money as you can (e.g., take a bit of change out of grocery money if/when possible).
  • Hide extra clothing, keys, money, etc., at a friend/family member’s house.
  • Decide where you are going to go and how you will get there (e.g., by taxi or getting a ride from a friend).
  • If you use mobility devices or other equipment to accommodate a disability, consider where you can rent or borrow any needed items.
  • Connect with an agency that can help you by contacting 211 Saskatchewan.




Finding Help


Call 2-1-1, text 2-1-1, web chat or search independently through sk.211.ca to connect with services and supports in your local area. Trained professionals are here to help you find community, non-clinical health, and government services – 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Over 175 languages, including 17 Indigenous languages, are available over the phone. Need Help? It’s just a click, call or text away. Phone: Dial 211 from a landline or cell phone Web Chat: Visit sk.211.ca/contact_us to start your chat Text: Text “Hello” to 211 Out-of-province phone call: Dial 1-306-751-0397




In an Emergency


  • If you call 911 from a landline, you can leave the phone off the hook after you have dialed the number and the police will come to your location. This can be particularly useful if you have any communication difficulties.
  • A 911 call is free from cell phones.
  • Even if the phone is not activated or out of minutes, you can still call 911. However, if you call from a cellphone, the police cannot tell where you are calling from, so be sure to give them your address immediately.
  • If the abuser interrupts while you are calling 911, a tip to remember is to talk to the operator like you are ordering take out food. This way you are still able to provide your location.
  • Remember that there is no charge when dialing 911 from a pay phone.
  • For TTY access (telephone device for the deaf) press the spacebar announcer key repeatedly until a response is received.
  • If you do not speak English, tell the 911 call-taker the name of the language you speak. Stay on the line while you are connected to interpreter services that will provide assistance in your language.
  • Try to remain on the line until the 911 call-taker tells you it is okay to hang up.
Cell phones and phone cards may be available free of charge to help you remain in contact with family and friends. The SaskTel Phones for a Fresh Start program is available for clients of domestic violence shelters and some family violence counselling centres. Ask your counsellor for further information about the program. Remember: You can call 911 from anywhere on a charged cell phone, even if the phone is not activated or is out of minutes. Always call 911 if you feel you are in danger.





Part 3: Finding Help

Creating Your Safety Plan


Leaving a relationship is a difficult decision. You may experience conflicting emotions. For example, you want the abuse to stop but you love and care for the abuser. You might feel scared, helpless, or that you deserve the abuse. You might feel embarrassed to admit that your relationship is in trouble. It is hard to admit you are being abused, but seeking help is important. Your safety plan is your guide to leaving the abuse. Your safety plan should include what you will take with you, where you can go, and who you can contact for help. While you should try to make your safety plan as solid as possible, leave some room for flexibility in case the situation changes. Sometimes things come up at the last minute. Having a backup plan and leaving room for change will make things easier.




Cards You Will Need


Carry in your wallet originals or copies of all the cards you normally use:

  • Social Insurance Number (SIN) card
  • Credit cards
  • Phone card
  • Bank cards
  • Health cards
  • Status card




Items to Carry With You


Try to keep your wallet, purse, or bag handy containing:

  • Keys for your home, car, workplace, safety deposit box, etc.
  • Cheque book, bank books/statements
  • Driver’s licence, registration, insurance
  • Address/telephone book
  • Picture of spouse/partner and any children
  • Emergency money (in cash) hidden away
  • Cell phone and charger
  • Extra medications and a list of medications and their dosages




Packing Your Go Bag


Have a suitcase available so you can quickly pack the following items:

  • Clothing for you and your children
  • Special toys and/or comforts for your children
  • Medications
  • Jewelry and items of special sentimental value
  • A list of other items you would like to take if you get a chance to return to your home to collect more belongings later




Pet Supplies


If you have pets, gather items you will need for their care:

  • Crate or kennel
  • Leash and collar
  • Food and water bowls
  • A small amount of food if possible (especially if your pet is on a special diet)
  • Any special toy or bedding that your pet enjoys
  • Pet licence or something to prove ownership of the animal




Important Documents


Make a photocopy of the following items and store in a safe place, away from the originals. Hide the originals someplace else, if you can.

  • Passports, birth certificates, Indian/First Nations status cards, citizenship papers, immigration papers, permanent resident or citizenship cards, etc., for all family members
  • Driver’s licence, vehicle registration, insurance papers
  • Prescriptions, medical, and vaccination records for all family members
  • School records
  • All income assistance documentation
  • Marriage certificate, divorce papers, custody documentation, court orders, protection orders, or other legal documents
  • Lease/rental agreement, house deed, mortgage documents




Other Considerations


  • Open a bank account in your own name and instruct the bank not to phone you. Access the statement online or arrange for it to be sent to a different location, such as to a trusted friend or family member.
  • Store documents in a safety deposit box at a bank that your partner does not go to.
  • Save and set aside as much money as you can (e.g., take a bit of change out of grocery money if/when possible).
  • Hide extra clothing, keys, money, etc., at a friend/family member’s house.
  • Decide where you are going to go and how you will get there (e.g., by taxi or getting a ride from a friend).
  • If you use mobility devices or other equipment to accommodate a disability, consider where you can rent or borrow any needed items.
  • Connect with an agency that can help you by contacting 211 Saskatchewan.




Finding Help


Call 2-1-1, text 2-1-1, web chat or search independently through sk.211.ca to connect with services and supports in your local area. Trained professionals are here to help you find community, non-clinical health, and government services – 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Over 175 languages, including 17 Indigenous languages, are available over the phone. Need Help? It’s just a click, call or text away. Phone: Dial 211 from a landline or cell phone Web Chat: Visit sk.211.ca/contact_us to start your chat Text: Text “Hello” to 211 Out-of-province phone call: Dial 1-306-751-0397




In an Emergency


  • If you call 911 from a landline, you can leave the phone off the hook after you have dialed the number and the police will come to your location. This can be particularly useful if you have any communication difficulties.
  • A 911 call is free from cell phones.
  • Even if the phone is not activated or out of minutes, you can still call 911. However, if you call from a cellphone, the police cannot tell where you are calling from, so be sure to give them your address immediately.
  • If the abuser interrupts while you are calling 911, a tip to remember is to talk to the operator like you are ordering take out food. This way you are still able to provide your location.
  • Remember that there is no charge when dialing 911 from a pay phone.
  • For TTY access (telephone device for the deaf) press the spacebar announcer key repeatedly until a response is received.
  • If you do not speak English, tell the 911 call-taker the name of the language you speak. Stay on the line while you are connected to interpreter services that will provide assistance in your language.
  • Try to remain on the line until the 911 call-taker tells you it is okay to hang up.
Cell phones and phone cards may be available free of charge to help you remain in contact with family and friends. The SaskTel Phones for a Fresh Start program is available for clients of domestic violence shelters and some family violence counselling centres. Ask your counsellor for further information about the program. Remember: You can call 911 from anywhere on a charged cell phone, even if the phone is not activated or is out of minutes. Always call 911 if you feel you are in danger.





Part 4: Preparing to Leave

Building a Support System: Seeking Help


It is common for people to leave a relationship only to return because they didn’t find support. Part of your planning includes building a support system to help you through the changes you want to make. Choose people for your support system who you feel safe with and who will protect your privacy – those who will not betray your confidence or tell your abuser or others what you have told them. The people in your support system are an important resource for you. They will help you stay safe and strong as you make changes in your life. These people need to understand that sharing any information about you leaving the abuser can place you in serious danger. At the time of leaving an abusive situation, you are at an extremely high risk for a lethal assault. Please be extra cautious. The people in your support system will help you in different ways. Friends and family members might be good listeners and emotional helpers. They might watch your children while you attend appointments. They may be able to provide you with a safe place to stay or other basic needs. People from service organizations or other professionals can help you stay calm and focused so that you can follow through with your safety plan. They can intervene during a crisis. They can let you know about other programs and services that could assist you or they can help you through legal processes. The ways in which a support system can help will depend on your needs. Be clear about what you need from each person and what they can expect from you. Above all else, do not be ashamed or afraid to ask for help. People who care about you want you to be safe. Stay connected with your support system through phone calls, emails, texts, or visits in person. Tell someone from your support system when you come and go from home or appointments. Communication like this can help keep you safe. Create a safety code word that you can use in emergency situations. Share this code word with your support system and make sure that your system knows what to do if you use this word. Should they phone the police? Meet you somewhere? Come to where you are? If someone in your support system is unable to reach you and is concerned that you are in danger, they should call the police.




Preparing to Leave


You may face obstacles and challenges as you prepare to leave your relationship. For example, you could be faced with pressures that might lead you to believe that ending the relationship is wrong. Your family or community might try to convince you that you are disgracing the family name. It may seem that there is no one to ask for help and that you are without support. You may feel that you are being judged for wanting things to change. Maybe you believe that people will look down on you. You may be afraid for your safety or fear that no one will support you when you leave. You might think it is easier to stay than to leave. You may be worried about having enough money or being able to find a place to live. These fears are all valid. Your safety plan is your guide to leaving the abuse. Your safety plan should include what you will take with you, where you can go, and who you can contact for help. While you should try to make your safety plan as solid as possible, leave some room for flexibility in case the situation changes. Sometimes things come up at the last minute. Having a backup plan and leaving room for change will make things easier.




Financial Planning


Leaving the abuser might mean there is a change in the amount of money you have or receive. Having money to purchase food, gas, pay the phone bill, or find a place to live are all things you need to consider. Do not let the fear of not having money keep you in an unsafe situation. More often than not the abuser has made you feel that you are dependant on them; that without their help, you would not survive financially in the world. As part of your planning, you can make a budget and research options for income or income assistance. Organizations and people in your support system can help you apply for jobs or government support programs, work with you to create a budget, and teach you how to manage money. Here are some things to consider to gain financial freedom from your abuser and to build greater financial stability: Know where you stand It is helpful to know where you stand financially. Knowing your sources of income, bank account balances, property owned (house, car, cabin, etc.), monthly expenses and any debts owed (mortgage, line of credit, credit cards, loans) will give you a better picture of how financially secure you are and help you to consider your options. Who to contact?

  • Bank or Credit Union: if possible, choose a different bank or location from the one the abuser uses

  • Ministry of Social Services – Financial Assistance Saskatchewan Client Services Centre 1-866-221-5200 (toll free) 1-866-995-0099 (TTY); www.saskatchewan.ca/residents/family-and-social-support/financial-help

  • Band Office

  • Trusted friends or family members




Legal Issues


You have the legal right to be protected from abuse and violence. Talk to a service provider or someone in your support system for advice on affordable or free legal supports and services. Legal aid, pro-bono legal clinics, and community organizations are great resources. There are options to protect you, your children, and your property (including pets). There are a number of criminal and civil actions that you can take depending on your situation. Two of the most common are:

  • Peace Bond: If you have a real fear that you may be harassed or abused, you can get protection from the courts in the form of a Peace Bond. A Peace Bond is a promise made in court by the abuser to "keep the peace" for a certain length of time. The abuser must also obey any other conditions the court might add. As long as the conditions of the Peace Bond are met, the abuser will not be charged with a criminal offence.
  • Emergency Intervention Order (EIO): An EIO is a court order and can include things like removal of the abuser from the home, supervision by a police officer as you or the abuser pack up personal belongings from the home, or a condition that the abuser cannot contact you, your children, or your family. EIOs can be requested in an emergency situation when evidence of violence exists. EIOs can be issued 24/7. Police officers, victim service coordinators, and mobile crisis workers can help you apply for an EIO.
Who to contact?
  • Legal Aid 1-800-667-3764; www.legalaid.sk.ca
  • Community Legal Services for Saskatoon Inner City Inc. (CLASSIC) – Saskatoon 306-657-6100; www.classiclaw.ca
  • Pro Bono Law Saskatchewan 1-855-833-PBLS (7257) (toll free); www.pblsask.ca
  • Lawyer Referral Services, Law Society of Saskatchewan – Regina 306-569-8242; www.lawsociety.sk.ca
  • Victim Services 1-888-286-6664 (toll free) or 1-866-445-8857 (TTY)
  • Your local police service (RCMP, municipal, or First Nations)




Ready, Set, GO


Leaving is one of the hardest decisions you will ever make. There is no right or wrong way to leave an abusive relationship. Keep safety as your top priority and when it’s time, just leave. Don’t doubt yourself or your decisions. It will be a long journey and it won’t be easy, but it will be worth it.





Part 5: Starting Fresh

What Might Change?


It is normal to feel many emotions after you’ve left. You might have "happy" feelings such as relief and empowerment and "sad" feelings like fear and loneliness. While you are happy that you left, you might also feel worried about where you will go from here. You might miss the good times you had with the abuser. Allow yourself to feel these emotions and recognize that they will not last forever. Change is Hard Leaving an abusive situation will bring many changes. You may not be able to go to the same stores, cafes, and hangouts that you are used to going to because the abuser still goes to these places. You might have to switch the grocery store you shop at, the gym you exercise at, or the parks you go to. Changing personal routines is common when leaving a relationship. Your circle of friends might change. Friends you have in common with the abuser may not be trustworthy and might tell the abuser where you are living, what you are doing, and how your life is going after you have left. Some can be a constant reminder of the abuse and might even push you to get back together with the abuser. Let go of these people to make room for others who will support you. There are many emotions you will experience as you work through this change. You will likely grieve the end of your relationship. You may feel anger, sadness, or regret, and think about the "what ifs." You may feel like you have lost something after you leave your relationship. The change will feel difficult and overwhelming at times. You may start to think that perhaps the situation wasn’t that bad or that you made a mistake. Talk to people in your support system who will remind you of the changes you want to make and encourage you to keep moving forward. Talk with service providers about support groups and other ways to keep moving forward. Connect with others who have left abusive relationships who can share their experiences and the difference it has made for them. One day at a time, things will become easier. "But I still have feelings for the abuser" Just because you have left the abuser does not necessarily mean you will stop loving or caring for that person. Sometimes, the hardest part about leaving is dealing with the loving feelings you may still have for the person who was abusing you. You might begin to remember the good times you had with the abuser and this might lead you to forget about the bad times. Acknowledge that you have good memories and enjoyed some good moments with the abuser but do not minimize the abuse and violence. After leaving, you might feel that you want to go back. Maybe you are having a hard time supporting yourself, caring for the children alone, feeling lonely, or want to feel loved and have someone there with you. It is unlikely that the abuser’s behaviour will improve if you return. If anything, the abuser may become more violent and abusive in an effort to control you and prevent you from leaving again. Remember, the abuse is not your fault and the abuser’s actions are not your responsibility.




Dealing with the Abuser


If possible, cut all ties with the abuser – no phone calls, messages via other people, letters, texts, emails, and so on. If you have to contact the abuser for whatever reason, such as discussing the children, keep the conversation to that topic. Before meeting with the abuser, prepare yourself. Talk to a trusted person in your support system about the emotions you are feeling. If it makes things easier, practice what you are going to say; decide the topics of conversation you are willing to accept and where you will draw the line. Consider taking someone with you when you need to meet with the abuser, especially if the abuser has ever threatened to kill you or themselves. This can be a friend, a family member, or another person from your support system. Meeting in a public place is another option. Having someone with you will make the meeting easier and help you to face the abuser, especially if you have recently left the relationship. It will also help to deter any harassing behaviours the abuser may try to use. If you still feel unsafe speaking to the abuser, consider communicating through a third party such as a family member or lawyer. If you have any concerns about your safety, do not meet with the abuser alone under any circumstances. Leaving the relationship is an important step in moving on and starting fresh, but can also be scary at the same time. The abuser has now lost the power and control that they held over you. It is important to continue to record any incidents with the abuser because it will help you to further build a case if you decide to report the abuse. The abuser might start calling you or sending threatening emails, texts, and voice messages. They may try to enter your home without your permission, follow you around as you run errands, harass you at work, or threaten your children at school. Keep track of everything. Contact the police if you feel you are in danger. Remember, you don’t have to put up with this behaviour any more. You have a right to feel safe.




Staying Safe After Leaving


Leaving an abusive situation can be dangerous. It is important to be aware of the possible dangers you may face after leaving and take some simple steps to help make sure you are safe at home, in public, and at work.

At Home

  • Keep your doors locked at all times. If you are not at home, close and lock all your windows.

  • Change the locks on your doors as soon as possible, especially if you live in a place that the abuser has access to. If possible, add locks to your windows and don’t forget to change the lock on the patio door.

  • If you have a yard, make sure to keep it well lit. Lock garages and sheds.

  • Consider installing a motion detector or security system in your home to keep you and your property safe at all times.

  • Consider telling your neighbours about your situation. Tell them that you’ve just left an abusive situation and ask them to keep an eye out for the abuser.

  • Install a peephole in your door so you can see who is on the other side.

  • If you rent, ask your landlord to help you secure your home. Do not put your name in the apartment/rental building directory.

  • Get an unpublished and unlisted phone number for your home and cell phone. Have your phone service provider block your number when calling out so that your phone number does not show on the caller display.

  • Don’t give copies of your keys to anyone unless you fully trust this person and know that they will keep the keys safe.

In Public

  • Carry your fully charged phone with you at all times. If you need immediate help, call 911.

  • Establish check-in times with your support system. Tell someone when you are leaving the house, where you will be going, and what time you will be back. Agree on what to do if they do not hear from you.

  • Develop a signal or code word that you can use with your support system in case of emergency situations. Let people know what to do if they see or hear this signal.

  • If you have a Peace Bond, Emergency Intervention Order, or custody order in place, carry a copy with you. If you need to contact police, you can quickly show them to confirm these orders so they can act. If you do not have a copy of this document, ask for one at the local court house. You may be asked for ID and have to pay for photocopying.

  • Consider changing your doctor, dentist, and other professional service provider if you and the abuser see the same one, or if your abuser knows which ones you see.

At Work

  • Consider talking to your employer about your situation so they can support you.

  • Provide your employer with a list of individuals to contact in case of an emergency.

  • Give your employer a picture of the abuser in case you are confronted by them at your workplace.

  • If you have a Peace Bond, Emergency Intervention Order, or custody order in place, provide a copy to your employer so they are able to protect you and other staff. If your employer needs to contact police, they will be able to share the orders with the police so they can act.

  • If you have concerns about your safety, park near the building so you can enter and leave work quickly and safely. Ask your employer to work with you in developing a safety plan for the workplace.

  • Victims of interpersonal violence are able to take five paid days and five unpaid days off work. The time away from work is to assist the victims of violence to take care of things such as finding a new place to live or attending court.

Social Media

  • Disable the location tagging on your social media profile page so that your location does not show up every time you post, comment, or share something.

  • Be aware that social media can be a way for an abuser to track your activity and to maintain contact with you. Consider not actively using social media if you have any concerns.

  • Increase the security settings in your own profile and your children’s so that it becomes more difficult to access your page.

  • If you or your children are friends with your abuser, "un-friend" and block them. You don’t need the added stress of having them look at your profile.

  • Clean out your friend list. There may be people on your friend list who are close to the abuser. The abuser can access your page and your information through these friends.

  • Do not post anything on your page that can tell someone where you are, where you are going, or what you are doing. Posts like "had a great time at the concert" or "heading out to visit Paula" can be used to track where you are.

  • Talk to your friends and your children’s friends and ask them not to post any pictures of you or tag you in any pictures or posts. Adjust your privacy settings so you have to approve when you are tagged in pictures or posts.

  • If you are sending messages through social media, private message people rather than posting publicly.

  • Do not accept friend requests from anyone you don’t know. It is very easy for the abuser to create a fake profile to keep tabs on you and your children.




Children's Safety


If you have children, you need to make sure that they are safe too. Taking extra steps for your children will help create the safe and loving family life they need and deserve. Here are some steps you can take to ensure the safety of your children:

  • Inform all the people you feel necessary (teachers, supervisors, coaches, school bus drivers, youth group mentors, etc.) about the abusive situation you have left and the need to keep your children safe. Show these people a photo of the abuser and make it clear that the children need to be protected from the abuser and what the conditions of their contact are.
  • Contact the daycare or school officials to clearly discuss and create a safety plan for the children. Include a list of people who can pick up the children, contacts to phone in case of emergency, and any code words that your children may use to describe a threatening or emergency situation.
  • Maintain regular communication with the daycare or school and keep everyone who needs to know up-to-date with changes to your plan.
  • If you have a Peace Bond, Emergency Intervention Order, or custody order in place, provide a copy to the daycare and school principal. This lets the school know what contact is acceptable.
  • Join a counselling or support group. Also many community based organizations have groups specific to children who have been exposed to violence.
  • Talk to your children and develop a safety plan that they can follow if they are in an emergency situation but you are not with them.
  • Teach your children how to call the police and any other family members or important people in your support system in case of emergencies.
  • Teach them to use the privacy settings on all social media.




Taking Care of Yourself


As you start rebuilding your life, it is important to take care of yourself and your personal needs. The abusive situation may have taken a toll on your self-esteem and you might find you are feeling lonely, depressed, and not very confident. Remember that the abuse was never your fault and you did nothing to deserve it. Feeling good about yourself is an important part of rebuilding your life. Boosting your self-esteem starts by thinking positive thoughts about yourself and your life. Building your self-esteem is an important part of moving on. This will take time and effort and does not happen overnight. At times, you might feel like you are on a rollercoaster ride of emotions. Make time to do things and activities that you love. Make a list of things that you enjoy doing (for example, "I love to go for walks, cook, fix things, write poetry, play video games, ride horses, play hockey, watch a movie") and make some time each week to do at least one thing on your list. Spending your free time doing things you love will help ease the stress and emotional hardships you might be facing while you rebuild your life. Life can be stressful and busy – remember to make time to relax and have fun! Maintain contact with your support system. When you’re in the midst of change, having supportive people in your life is essential. Your support system might include friends, family, and community members, or professionals such as counsellors and support groups. You might find resources online or at your local bookstore or library that can offer support as well. Rebuilding your life after leaving an abusive partner can be a challenge. At times you may find yourself feeling overwhelmed. Taking on too many things at once can lead to even more stress and you may find yourself giving up. Take things slow and plan out your days. A good idea is to start a log of daily, weekly, and monthly goals you want to accomplish, and the steps you are going to take to achieve these goals. Accept yourself. No one is perfect. Be gentle with yourself. You Can Do It! You can succeed. You deserve a life that is safe, healthy, and full of love. Over time you will find your hard work is worth it. This is a process of self-development and change. You will notice that you will develop new positive behaviours and attitudes. You will find that you are creating new celebrations and family traditions that you are sharing with those you love and who love you back – whether it be your friends, family, children, or yourself. Take a new picture of yourself with your friends, your family, your children, or on your own. Frame this picture and place it in a special place in your home. Notice the new life in your eyes. Realize that change is possible. You deserve love and abundance. You can rebuild your life, and find peace, health, and goodness.





SAFETY PLANNER

Creating Your Safety Plan


Leaving a relationship is a difficult decision. You may experience conflicting emotions. For example, you want the abuse to stop but you love and care for the abuser. You might feel scared, helpless, or that you deserve the abuse. You might feel embarrassed to admit that your relationship is in trouble. It is hard to admit you are being abused, but seeking help is important. Your safety plan is your guide to leaving the abuse. Your safety plan should include what you will take with you, where you can go, and who you can contact for help. While you should try to make your safety plan as solid as possible, leave some room for flexibility in case the situation changes. Sometimes things come up at the last minute. Having a backup plan and leaving room for change will make things easier.




Cards You Will Need


Carry in your wallet originals or copies of all the cards you normally use:

  • Social Insurance Number (SIN) card
  • Credit cards
  • Phone card
  • Bank cards
  • Health cards
  • Status card




Items to Carry With You


Try to keep your wallet, purse, or bag handy containing:

  • Keys for your home, car, workplace, safety deposit box, etc.
  • Cheque book, bank books/statements
  • Driver’s licence, registration, insurance
  • Address/telephone book
  • Picture of spouse/partner and any children
  • Emergency money (in cash) hidden away
  • Cell phone and charger
  • Extra medications and a list of medications and their dosages




Packing Your Go Bag


Have a suitcase available so you can quickly pack the following items:

  • Clothing for you and your children
  • Special toys and/or comforts for your children
  • Medications
  • Jewelry and items of special sentimental value
  • A list of other items you would like to take if you get a chance to return to your home to collect more belongings later




Pet Supplies


If you have pets, gather items you will need for their care:

  • Crate or kennel
  • Leash and collar
  • Food and water bowls
  • A small amount of food if possible (especially if your pet is on a special diet)
  • Any special toy or bedding that your pet enjoys
  • Pet licence or something to prove ownership of the animal




Important Documents


Make a photocopy of the following items and store in a safe place, away from the originals. Hide the originals someplace else, if you can.

  • Passports, birth certificates, Indian/First Nations status cards, citizenship papers, immigration papers, permanent resident or citizenship cards, etc., for all family members
  • Driver’s licence, vehicle registration, insurance papers
  • Prescriptions, medical, and vaccination records for all family members
  • School records
  • All income assistance documentation
  • Marriage certificate, divorce papers, custody documentation, court orders, protection orders, or other legal documents
  • Lease/rental agreement, house deed, mortgage documents




Other Considerations


  • Open a bank account in your own name and instruct the bank not to phone you. Access the statement online or arrange for it to be sent to a different location, such as to a trusted friend or family member.
  • Store documents in a safety deposit box at a bank that your partner does not go to.
  • Save and set aside as much money as you can (e.g., take a bit of change out of grocery money if/when possible).
  • Hide extra clothing, keys, money, etc., at a friend/family member’s house.
  • Decide where you are going to go and how you will get there (e.g., by taxi or getting a ride from a friend).
  • If you use mobility devices or other equipment to accommodate a disability, consider where you can rent or borrow any needed items.
  • Connect with an agency that can help you by contacting 211 Saskatchewan.




Finding Help


Call 2-1-1, text 2-1-1, web chat or search independently through sk.211.ca to connect with services and supports in your local area. Trained professionals are here to help you find community, non-clinical health, and government services – 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Over 175 languages, including 17 Indigenous languages, are available over the phone. Need Help? It’s just a click, call or text away. Phone: Dial 211 from a landline or cell phone Web Chat: Visit sk.211.ca/contact_us to start your chat Text: Text “Hello” to 211 Out-of-province phone call: Dial 1-306-751-0397




In an Emergency


  • If you call 911 from a landline, you can leave the phone off the hook after you have dialed the number and the police will come to your location. This can be particularly useful if you have any communication difficulties.
  • A 911 call is free from cell phones.
  • Even if the phone is not activated or out of minutes, you can still call 911. However, if you call from a cellphone, the police cannot tell where you are calling from, so be sure to give them your address immediately.
  • If the abuser interrupts while you are calling 911, a tip to remember is to talk to the operator like you are ordering take out food. This way you are still able to provide your location.
  • Remember that there is no charge when dialing 911 from a pay phone.
  • For TTY access (telephone device for the deaf) press the spacebar announcer key repeatedly until a response is received.
  • If you do not speak English, tell the 911 call-taker the name of the language you speak. Stay on the line while you are connected to interpreter services that will provide assistance in your language.
  • Try to remain on the line until the 911 call-taker tells you it is okay to hang up.
Cell phones and phone cards may be available free of charge to help you remain in contact with family and friends. The SaskTel Phones for a Fresh Start program is available for clients of domestic violence shelters and some family violence counselling centres. Ask your counsellor for further information about the program. Remember: You can call 911 from anywhere on a charged cell phone, even if the phone is not activated or is out of minutes. Always call 911 if you feel you are in danger.





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