Change your payee (if you have one) on your SSI/SSDI benefits to someone you trust, other than the batterer.
Open a savings account. Have your benefits check direct deposited into that account. If possible try to set aside as much money as you can. If you have joint accounts with your spouse or partner, take almost all the money out and put it in your account. It may seems sneaky or it may even be risky for you, but we bay be talking about YOUR SURVIVAL!
Plan for assistance with personal care tasks. Be prepared to receive this assistance from someone else besides the batterer. This may feel strange at first. Ask several friends for help, so that one person is not over-taxed.
Get a post office box in your own name and hide the key or, give it to a trusted friend.
Gather money, extra set of keys, medications, spare adaptive aids or medical supplies, a packed bag with a few changes of clothes for you and your children and leave those items at the home of a trusted friend or relative.
Assess your own resources. Figure out if you have people (i.e. friends, family, church members etc.) who would be able to let you stay with them or lend you some money to make the transition.
Make sure, if you drive an adapted vehicle, that the adaptations are in good repair and the vehicle itself is in reasonable, working order. Have your vehicle checked often, in case the abuser has tampered with it in anyway. Never leave your vehicle with less than a half of a tank of gas. This is so that if you need to leave in a hurry, you have a reasonable amount of gas available. Don’t forget a car charger for your phone!
If you use special transit services and want to go to a women’s support group, see a counselor, friend, or flee for good (assuming you have a specific place to go), give them the name of a place you regularly go to, but the address of where you really want to go, so the batterer will not be suspicious.
If you do no use these services and you live in a major metropolitan area, consider applying. A regular doctor or caseworker can certify you disability of you have been in to them for services before. This can even be done by mail.
Call the Battered Women’s Shelter in your area to discuss safety planning. Let them know what your needs are and that you have a disability. Inquire about accessibility. Chances are they are full. Do not be discouraged by this. Ask to be put on the waiting list and check back with them daily to inquire about their status. Remember, safety planning is very, very important at this stage of the process. Stay in touch with your local hotline. Ask them for help to strategize. A woman is much more likely to be killed upon leaving a relationship than at any other time.
Keep the Battered Women’s Shelter phone number with you programmed in your phone. Better yet, memorize it! Keep some extra change with you for phone calls. Most shelter hotlines will take collect calls. (Phone calls are now 50 cents from most public phones.)
Call and talk with other disability related service providers and disability rights organizations listed in the phone book (i.e. support groups, coalitions, independent living centers, etc.)
If all else fails, call Adult Protective Services and report that your health and safety is at stake. They must take down all self-reports. Ask them about what comes next. Remember not all APS reports end in a nursing home placement. If you are not willing to tolerate that option then let the social worker know that. There are other emergency options besides an institutional setting.
Remember, that leaving an abusive relationship is a process for women with disabilities, just like it is for women without disabilities. Most women leave an average of eight times before leaving for good. For women with disabilities this process can be longer because of all the logistics. Leaving an abusive relationship is one of the bravest, most frightening experiences a woman can go through in her life. Being abused is not your fault and neither is having a disability. Be good to yourself!
Remember there is hope. There are options. There is a way out.
Remember, only you know your batterer best. Only use the steps that make sense for your personal situation. If something doesn’t feel safe and would put you in further danger – don’t do it! These steps are only guidelines and ideas to think about and are not in any particular order of importance.