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Helpful
Resouces.

Safety

Tips.

Absolutely no one deserves to feel unsafe in their home or community. If you have been hit, threatened, demeaned or abused, please consider the following tips to ensure the safety of yourself and your loved ones:

During an incident

  • If there is an argument, try to be in a place that has an exit.

  • Avoid the bathroom, kitchen or anywhere that may contain weapons.

  • Use your instincts and judgement.  In some cases it may be possible to appease the abuser and calm them down.

  • Develop an age appropriate safety plan with your children.

  • Devise a code word to use with your children, family, friends and neighbors when you need the police.

When you are preparing to leave

  • Open a checking or savings account in your  own name.

  • Leave money, an extra set of keys, copies of important documents and an extra set of clothes and medicines in a safe place or with someone you trust.

  • Find a safe place where you and you children can go.

  • An old cell phone that can power on may be used to dial 911. When you call, always disclose your address so dispatchers can locate you.

  • If you have pets, make arrangements for them to be cared for in a safe place.

Feeling safe online and with Technology

  • Create a new email account.

  • Change all your passwords and PIN numbers.

  • Update your privacy settings.

  • For help making your technology use safer, click here.

Feeling safe in your own home

  • If you stay in your home, be sure to change your locks on the doors and lock your windows.

  • Inform you children’s day-care, school, etc. about who has permission to pick up your child.

  • Inform your neighbors and landlord that your partner no longer lives with you and that they should call the police if they see them near your property.

  • If you move, do not tell your abuser your new address. If you wish to keep your address confidential, consider applying for the Address Confidentiality Program.

Feeling safe on the job and in public

  • Decide whom you will inform at work of your situation. Tell security officers, and if possible, provide pictures of your abuser.

  •  When working, if possible, have someone screen your telephone calls.

  • Ask for an escort to and from your car.

  • Alternate your daily routines. Change frequently visited places such as gyms, banks, grocery stores, etc.

Tips & Tools 

for Caregivers.

What caregivers need to know

Knowing or even suspecting that your child is in an unhealthy relationship can be frustrating and frightening. But as a caregiver, you’re critical in helping your child develop healthy relationships and can provide life-saving support if they are in an abusive relationship.

 

Remember, dating violence occurs in both same-sex and opposite-sex couples and any gender can be abusive. Your child may be scared to speak out because he or she feels ashamed of what’s happening in their relationship. Many teens fear that their caregiver may overreact, blame them or be disappointed. Others worry that they won’t be believed or understood. Dating abuse can be a very sensitive topic, so if they do come to you to talk, let it be on their terms, and meet them with understanding, not judgment.

“What signs should I be looking out for?”

You can look for some early warning signs of abuse that can help you identify if your child is in an abusive relationship before it’s too late. Some of these signs include:

  • Your child’s partner is extremely jealous or possessive.

  • You notice unexplained marks or bruises.

  • Your child’s partner emails or texts excessively.

  • You notice that your child is depressed or anxious.

  • Your child stops participating in extracurricular activities or other interests.

  • Your child stops spending time with other friends and family.

  • Your child’s partner abuses other people or animals.

  • Your child begins to dress differently.

“What can I do if I see the red flags?”

As a parent or caregiver, your instinct is to help your child in whatever way you can. This need to help can drive you to quickly react, but sometimes what feels like the right plan of action could stop the conversation before it begins. Here are some tips to keep in mind when trying to help a child who is experiencing dating abuse:

Listen and give support

When talking to your teen, be supportive and non-accusatory. Let your child know that it’s not their fault and no one “deserves” to be abused. If they do open up, it’s important to be a good listener.

Accept what your child is telling you

Believe that they are being truthful. Your child may be reluctant to share their experiences in fear of no one believing what they say. Showing skepticism could make your teen hesitant to tell you when things are wrong and drive them closer to their abuser. Offer your unconditional support and make sure that they know you believe they are giving an accurate account of what is happening.

Show concern

Let your teen know that you are concerned for their safety by saying things like: “You don’t deserve to be treated like this;” “You deserve to be in a relationship where you are treated with respect” and “This is not your fault.” Point out that what’s happening isn’t “normal.” Everyone deserves a safe and healthy relationship.

Talk about the behaviors, not the person

When talking about the abuse, speak about the behaviors you don’t like, not the person. For example, instead of saying, “She is controlling” you could say, “I don’t like that she texts you to see where you are.” Remember that there still may be love in the relationship — respect your child’s feelings. Also, talking badly about your son or daughter’s partner could discourage your teen from asking for your help in the future.

Avoid ultimatums

Resist the urge to give an ultimatum (for example, “If you don’t break up with them right away, you’re grounded/you won’t be allowed to date anyone in the future.”) You want your child to truly be ready to walk away from the relationship. If you force the decision, they may be tempted to return to their abusive partner because of unresolved feelings. Also, leaving is the most dangerous time for victims. Trust that your child knows their situation better than you do and will leave when they’re ready.

Be prepared

Educate yourself on dating abuse. Help your child identify the unhealthy behaviors and patterns in their relationship. Discuss what makes a relationship healthy. With your teen, identify relationships around you (within your family, friend group or community) that are healthy and discuss what makes those relationships good for both partners.

Decide on next steps together

When you’re talking to your teen about a plan of action, know that the decision has to come from them. Ask what ‘next steps’ they would like to take. If they’re uncomfortable discussing this with you, help them find additional support.

“But my child isn’t dating.. yet.”

It’s never too early to talk to your child about healthy relationships and dating violence. Start the conversation early — even if you don’t think your child is dating.  It’s one of the most important steps you can take to help prevent dating violence. Here are some sample questions to start the conversation:

  • Are any of your friends dating? What are their relationships like? What would you want in a partner?

  • Have you witnessed unhealthy relationships or dating abuse at school? How does it make you feel? Were you scared?

  • Do you know what you would do if you witnessed or experienced abuse?

  • Has anyone you know posted anything bad about a friend online? What happened afterwards?

  • Would it be weird if someone you were dating texted you all day to ask you what you’re doing?

Take the

Pledge.

These Hands Don't Hurt

 

  • I pledge to be an advocate for healthy relationships, including my own relationships.

  • To learn about the facts, warning signs, and educate my community and myself.

 

  • Show respect and treat my partner as an equal.

  • To be honest and communicate openly with my partner.

  • Assure my partner that their thoughts, feeling and opinions are valued.

  • To listen and respect my partner’s boundaries.

  • To never use my hands to the detriment of my partner.

  • To accept responsibility for my actions.

  • I pledge to never harm my partner – emotionally, physically, sexually, financially, or digitally.

 

 

Contact Us

Have questions about First Step, Inc. and our services? Send us a message.

(If you are in immediate danger, call 911)

ADDRESS

624 Indiana Suite 304

Wichita Falls, TX 76301

PHONE

1-800-658-2683

(24-Hour Hotline)

940-723-7799

Outreach Office

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First Step, Inc. is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization based in Wichita Falls, TX, serving 12 counties in North Texas.

First Step, Inc. provides free, confidential, and comprehensive domestic violence and sexual assault services.

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