Everyone has the right to live without the fear of abuse. Violence can occur anywhere – at home, at work or in public. Whether or not you feel you are able to leave an abuser there are things you can do to make yourself and your family safer. You may not be able to predict or control your partner’s violence however you can plan the most effective way to respond to it.
Personal Safety Plan
A personal safety plan helps you identify steps to better protect yourself and your children at home, school, work, and in the community. Every situation is different and LifeWire’s trained staff can help you develop a safety plan that addresses your needs and concerns. If you would like help creating a personal safety plan, contact LifeWire’s 24 hour help line at 425-746-1940.
Protecting Your Identity
Survivors of domestic violence must take extra precautions to protect themselves from abusers who use identity theft as a means of power and control.
Abusers may use survivors' credit cards without their permission, open fraudulent new credit cards in survivors' names (potentially ruining their credit) or open credit cards in children's names. Misuse of survivors' social security numbers is also common in the context of domestic violence. Abusers may fraudulently use survivors' social security numbers to stalk, harass or threaten survivors of abuse.
Steps to Take
Relocate. Moving across town, across the state or across the country puts physical distance between you and the abuser. Be sure to obtain an unlisted phone number and be aware of the Full Faith and Credit provisions in your restraining order, which make the order valid when you travel to another state or tribal jurisdiction.
Apply to the address confidentiality program in your state. These types of programs allow individuals who have experienced domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking or other types of crime to receive mail at a confidential address, while keeping their actual address undisclosed. Rules and eligibility vary from state to state. Find an address confidentiality program in your state.
Open a post office box to receive mail. Abusers may be able to open fraudulent credit cards by responding to credit card offers received in the mail. A post office box may prevent this if you are the only one with access to it. Be wary of the confidentiality policies of non-government post office box centers such as Mail Boxes, Etc. and the fact that it may not be possible to remain anonymous in rural towns while accessing the post office.
Protect your incoming and outgoing mail. Shred all credit card offers that come in the mail along with other documents that have your name, address and/or social security number on them. Mail bills and other sensitive documents directly from the post office instead of from the mailbox on your porch or at the end of your driveway. Call 1-800-5OPT-OUT to stop receiving credit card offers in the mail.
Guard your social security number. Do not use your social security number as a general ID, PIN or password. Request to have your social security number removed from documents you receive in the mail and ID cards for health insurance, driving, work, etc. Learn how to change your social security number.
Check your credit report. The best way to determine if someone has committed fraud against you is to check your credit report with all three credit bureaus at least once per year. Visit www.annualcreditreport.com to obtain a free yearly credit report. You can also make a request to have a fraud alert placed on your credit report.
When contacting a credit bureau, you will need to provide them with the following information: Full name, social security number, driver’s license information, current address, all addresses over the past 5 years, date of birth, signature, home phone number and employer.
PO Box 740241
Atlanta, GA 30374
Consumer Disclosure Center
PO Box 1000
Chester, PA 19022
National Consumer Assistance
PO Box 2104
Allen, TX 75013-2104
Report suspected fraud. Contact local law enforcement if you know of or suspect fraud and ask to file a report. Check and/or close accounts you believe have been tampered with. File a report with the Federal Trade Commission at 1-877-ID-THEFT and the Social Security Administration Fraud Hotline at 1-800-269-0271. File copies of police reports with credit bureaus.
Protect information you give out. Never give any identifying information over the phone or through email or the Internet unless you initiated the call or have verification that the web site or email communication is secure.
Source: National Coalition Against Domestic Violence
Safety at Work
Victims of domestic violence are especially vulnerable at work because abusers know where to find them. There are steps you can take to protect yourself while at work.