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STAY SAFE in a Dating Relationship

Take a risk assessment.
A risk assessment prepares you for the possible outcomes of breaking up, and it helps you to stay safe.

Here are some questions to consider:
What was the first incident of abuse?
What was the worst incident of abuse?
What might happen if I break up with this person?
Do I need to change my daily schedule or patterns so I won't run into this person at the same time and place every day?
Who are the people who can help me through this?
What can I do to stay safe?

Break up in a public place.
This doesn't mean you have to make a public spectacle of the break up, it just means that you will be in a place where there are other people: at school, in a restaurant or at the mall. Being in a public place may keep the abuser from abusing you. Or, if an abusive incident should arise, others may intervene or simply serve as witnesses. Finally, don't rely on your abusive partner to drive you home afterwards. Make sure you have a safe way to get home.

Tell someone of your intentions to break up.
This is a precaution to build your supports and keep you safe.

Don't have contact after the relationship has ended.
It can be very difficult to stay away from a person who has been such an important part of your life- even if they abused you. Be aware that you will probably have mixed feelings about the breakup. But it is very important to end all contact: to help you heal from the relationship and to keep you safe. Now is the time to turn to your friends for support. Don't hesitate to speak to your parents and school personnel (teachers or the guidance office, for instance) if the abuser continues to harass or threaten you.

Inform an adult if you are concerned about safety.
An abusive relationship is too big a problem to handle on your own. You will need all the support you can get. Turn to those adults you can trust, and who can help you through the process.

Take all threats seriously.
Abusers often follow through on their threats. It is especially important to pay attention to threats of suicide or homicide (Has the abuser threatened to kill you? Has s/he threatened to kill her/himself if you leave?) Tell a trusted adult, like a parent or a teacher, immediately.

Reach out to community resources.
You may want to consider counseling or a support group, or you may just want some help collecting your thoughts and figuring out what to do. Don't hesitate to reach out to a local, state, or national hotline for victims of dating abuse and domestic violence. They are there to help with problems just like this.

Save and document everything.
Even if you are not sure if you want to involve the police, it is a good idea to log all incidents.

Save everything related to the event or incident.
If you receive a threatening note on your car windshield, you should save it. If possible, try not to touch all of it to save fingerprints. Similarly, if you receive a threatening electronic message by email, pager, or voice mail, make sure you save it. Saving everything can help show patterns plan for safety, and provide evidence for the police.

Talk about safety with advocates and other supporters.
Are you in or ending a relationship with someone who might be dangerous or stalking you? In domestic violence situations, stalking is common during the relationship, when trying to end the relationship, and often occurs long after the relationship is over.

Change your patterns.
Can you take a different route to work, school, home, etc.? Sometimes this isn't possible, but change things if you can.

Have a support system.
Which family member, neighbors, friends, and coworkers do you trust to help you plan for safety? It is common for batterers to push away most of your support systems, but they may be able to help you through a difficult time.

If you are experiencing High-Tech Abuse:

Defend Your Digital Space

Getting bullied, harassed, threatened, hacked, sexted, or constant messaged in a digital space? Take control at MTV's new AThinLine.org.

Trust your instincts: Is the stalker comfortable with technology? Use computers? Willing to go to any effort to maintain control of you? Technology is getting easier to use and cheaper to access. Batterers are incredibly persistent and creative.

Create a new email account: It is common for abusive people to want to monitor and know your every move. It may be safest to create a new email account on a safer computer. Do not create or check this account from your home computer. Do not use your name in your email address. Learn more about computer safety.

Change passwords: If anyone abusive knows or could guess your passwords, you may want to change them immediately and frequently. If you are still with your partner, remember that changing these might cause them to become suspicious. Some abusers have used the victim's email accounts to impersonate their victims and cause harm.

Cell phone: Get a new cell phone and number. Use the old cell phone to screen your calls and then use the new one to make your callbacks.

Tell police about all technology: If you are reporting high-tech incidents, make sure to report all of the technology devices that may be used. It may help the police find the appropriate technology devices used in the stalking or abusive incidents.


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