Even if you’ve been granted a restraining order, your mind is still likely full of questions, and the anxiety might be keeping you up at night and ruining your concentration. To ensure your mental health and the safety of your family, it’s imperative you remain calm. Here are 7 things you can do to stay safe during your divorce proceedings.
- Take Safety Precautions at Home
Once the abuser is out of the picture, take steps to ensure that he or she can’t enter your home. Change the locks, replace your doors with secure metal ones, and install an automatic lighting system around your home if possible.
- Protect Your Communication
Your abuser likely won’t be able to contact you under the terms of your restraining order, but it is a good idea to change your phone number regardless. Consider creating a new email address and changing your social media accounts as well.
- Divorce Restraining Order: Work Safeguards
You certainly don’t have to quit your job, but change your hours around, if possible. Change your routine; take different routes to get there, and avoid lunch spots you might have frequented.
- School Defenses
If you have school-aged children, alert their teachers to your situation. Take alternate routes to school, if possible. Teach your kids to tell a trusted adult immediately if they spot your abuser. If your children spend time at a friend’s home or with a babysitter, keep the friend’s parents and the sitter in the loop.
- Communicate Your Needs
Don’t feel embarrassed about your situation. Keep a copy of your restraining order with you at all times. Tell your family members and neighbors about the situation, and give them copies of the order as well. Talk to your boss or the receptionist at your job about the situation to prevent your abuser from gaining entry to your workplace.
- Travel Defensively
Avoid walking, jogging, or commuting on foot alone or at night. If you must travel at night, only walk in well-lit, public areas. Always carry a cell phone with you, but keep your head up and be aware of your surroundings.
- Seek Medical and Psychological Treatment As Needed
Facing your abuser in court led to a favorable outcome, but the court experience may have left you with an emotional hangover. See a doctor if you experience overwhelming feelings or panic. Be on the lookout for signs of depression and anxiety. Being in contact with a local domestic violence group can give you access to key emotional support. When in doubt, reach out for help.
“Teach children how and when to call 9-1-1. If possible, purchase a cordless telephone and take it with you as you travel to different rooms in your residence. Teach your children how to make a collect call to you or family members in case they are abducted. Tell your children not to unlock the door if the respondent tries to get into your home. Include family pets or other animals in your safety and escape plans. Animals are often targeted (threatened with harm, cruelly injured, or killed) by a batterer or stalker as a means of controlling, terrorizing or punishing human victims. If it is not safe for you to remain at home, it is likely not safe for your animals, either.”