The Need for a Safety Plan in Bad Relationships
In this video, Page Provan Fertility & Family Lawyers Director and Accredited Family Law Specialist, Stephen Page talks about your safety in bad relationships and making sure you have a safety plan in place.
G’day, I’m Stephen Page from Page Provan Family and Fertility Lawyers, thank you for joining me today. I’m talking to you today about making sure that you’re safe and particularly having a safety plan. In another video, I’ve talked about having a risk assessment.
It’s absolutely essential to have a risk assessment undertaken before you do your safety plan. I’ve certainly had clients come to me where they’ve done a safety plan but never ever done risk assessment. In that process, they are putting themselves and their children at risk. Safety plan is something real basic to work out in your circumstances, how can you be safe? So first off, work out the risk, and second, once you’ve worked out that level of risk, how do you minimise risk to your safety?
How do you improve your chances of remaining safe? You may still be living at home with someone who is committing domestic violence to you, fairly obvious thing is don’t argue in the kitchen because in the kitchen there are access to all kinds of tools, knives that can kill you or your children.
Another one is how do you get out of the house quickly? And some obvious things are to make sure that you’ve got your keys and your driver’s license and you can get out quickly.Another one is, well, where are you living? Is it safe? Is it safe for you to remain in the family home, even obtaining a protection order that enables you to stay there? Sometimes it may be.
It may be that you have spoken with all your neighbours, that they’re aware of the domestic violence, that they will phone the police if there’s anything suspicious that they hear or see, even no matter how innocuous they may think it might be. But if you’re living in a rural property, for example, you may remain particularly unsafe because you’re isolated from all your neighbours and even though you have a protection order and even though you’re there on your own, you’re really vulnerable.
So it’s doing a reality check about what level of safety you have. Another area for a safety plan, and we have safety plan on our website, go to it, please, have a look at it, it’s really, really good. The version that we have comes from the American Bar Association because I saw it on the American Bar Association, I was on the domestic violence news list, part from their domestic and family violence commission, and I thought, this is so good.
It was much better than anything I’d seen in Australia. But go and have a look at it, see what plain tools there are and see what you haven’t done and what you need to do. Too often I’ve heard, well, he’s left and I’m still in the house and I’ve got a protection order or not, and I’ve gone off to another lawyer and I thought about changing the locks. Sometimes I haven’t thought of changing the locks, but I thought about changing the locks and I spoke to this other lawyer who said, don’t change the locks because the two of you are the owners.
Change the locks, that’s my clear advice, as soon as you can, you want to change the locks. You don’t want to enable a perpetrator of family violence to come through the front door and then assault you or worse in the middle of the night. You want to make sure that you’re safe and secure. Another thing dealt with in our safety plan is going to court. If you go to court, lo and behold, your ex might be there.
Now, at the moment with COVID, we might be we might have the benefit of appearing via Zoom or Teams or phone, but most court appearances are in person, and lo and behold, if your ex wants to get at you, that is an occasion where it might be possible for them to sit beside you. Some, but not all courts, enable you to sit separately and in safety. Many courts now allow you to telephone or contact the court in advance to make sure that you are safe there.
Nevertheless, there might be that look, that furtive glance, that stare, the death stare to try and intimidate you while you’re at court. It’s important that you plan for those events to make sure that you are nice and strong because bullies, those perpetrators of domestic violence, respect only one thing, and thats strength. They see you as weak, but if you are strong, then often they will back off.
In any case, you need to show your strength because you want to show loud and clear that you’re not going to be bullied, and even in the safety plan, we have about lawyers because as I’ll say in another video, which is about death threats I’ve received, those threats can be made against lawyers. Just because I’m a lawyer for a party, I shouldn’t assume going to court that I’m going to be safe.
I have to assume at all stages that I might also be a target. So have a look at our safety plan, print it off, certainly make sure that you implement the safety needs for yourself and your children. But please, oh please, get some advice about domestic violence. Make sure you do the risk assessment. If you need to get a protection order, go and get that protection order. Don’t back off on it. Follow it through. Show strength, not weakness. Good luck.