By Abbey Doyle
The Herald Bulletin
ANDERSON, Ind. —
If you have left an abusive relationship you can never be too safe; it doesn’t matter if you left yesterday or six months ago, said Alternatives Inc. victims advocate Kandi Floyd.
“Leaving can be the most dangerous time for the victim,” she said. “That partner is losing the power and control and feel they need to get it back some way or another.”
Although it can be a dangerous time, Alternatives CEO Mary Jo Lee said it is critical that victims get out of these relationships and that there is help to do it safely.
“We know the effects on the children and the long-term effects to the victims of abuse are serious,” she said. “But we offer many services, and one of them is helping a victim to plan to leave and then actually leaving. We help them with all of the safety pieces. We can help them think of the different risks that they need to take.”
Lee said it is critical for families and friends to understand that it is a big decision for the victim to leave the relationship and that she will need lots of support for a long time to come.
“We don’t want to frighten women about leaving,” she said. “They need to get out. In our area there are thousands of victims who safely leave an abusive relationship.”
Floyd said victims and those close to her need to keep an eye out for red flags including stalking, calling non-stop, questioning the victim about her whereabouts, causing conflict during child exchange and extreme jealousy.
She recommended those escaping these abusive relationships to file for a protective order and be sure to have a safety plan in place. That safety plan includes keeping important documents, extra keys, phone numbers, medication and other important items in an accessible place; changing the locks; teaching children to dial 911; speaking to your children’s school or day care about who has permission to get the children; telling those close to you about the situation; having a code word with those close to you that would alert them to call 911 if needed; and always being aware of your surroundings.
Marianne Garrard is executive director of Safe At Home Inc., a nonresidential victim’s advocacy agency based in Henry County. The organization works with victims of domestic violence, sexual assault or other violent crimes on a one-on-one basis helping connect them with resources including how to create a safety plan.
“A lot of times people who are in crisis aren’t thinking about the logical next step because their fight or flight sense has stepped in,” Garrard said. “We help create a safety plan to help them determine what to do to get out safely. We empower them to make those decisions.”
She said it is important for victims to know there is someone they can call around the clock to get help, encouragement or resources.
Find Abbey Doyle on Facebook and @heraldbulletin on Twitter, or call 640-4805.