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Getting support and keeping safe after you leave a violent relationship.

3e. Staying safe at home

Est. read time: 3 min

If you are able, and choose, to stay in the family home there are a number of things you can do to keep safe.

Safe at Home Programs

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Safe at Home is a government funded program designed to help women experiencing family and domestic violence stay safely in their homes after separation from their ex-partner. The Safe at Home Program is free and confidential and available to women with or without children.  Safe at Home outreach workers can help with:

  • Doing a risk assessment and safety audit of your home;
  • Upgrading your home’s security;
  • Help with safety planning for you and your children;
  • Looking at other ways to help you stay safe;
  • Providing information and referrals to other areas of support.

Safe at Home service providers are funded to provide support within specific regions, both in the metropolitan area and regional WA.  You can find the Safe at Home program for your area on the Centre for Women’s Safety and Wellbeing website.

Safer in the Home

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The Safer in the Home Program provides comprehensive family violence risk assessment and safety planning support for women affected by family violence. Case management focuses on women’s self identified goals and explores avenues to increase safety and decrease isolation.

The Safer in the Home program also provides assessment of surveillance technologies that may have been installed without your knowledge such as:

  • Scanning for spyware on mobiles, iPads, computers and social media;
  • Detection of tracking devices on vehicles;
  • Detection of monitoring devices within the home such as cameras and/or recording devices.

Safer in the Home can be accessed either via self-referral or by referral by community based workers including police, counsellors, community advocates, legal representatives and child protection workers.

Actions you can take to improve your safety at home

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You can also take steps yourself to increase the safety of your home. Some of the actions below may be expensive (e.g. changing or installing locks or screens) but other actions require less expenditure while still being effective (e.g. dowels on windows and sliding doors, trimming vegetation, padlocks). You are the best person to consider the risk.  Think about what your ex-partner has done in the past, the threats they have made, what you think they will do and what will keep you safe.

Do what and when you can:

  • Financial circumstances can differ from person to person.  You can reach out to other organisations for financial support for food, utilities, fuel etc so that you can supplement your income to afford certain security upgrades. See section 3f. Financial assistance for living costs;
  • You may wish to consider a family violence restraining order so that your former partner has to maintain a certain distance from the house, workplace, you and possibly your children. You can find more information in section 2c. Family Violence Restraining Orders – What they are and how to get one;
  • In the early days, ask a supportive family member or close friend to stay with you for a while;
  • Consider changing the locks on doors and windows. Double cylinder deadlocks cannot be unlocked from the inside without a key.  If you install double cylinder deadlocks ensure that you have a key by the door and readily accessible at all times in case you have to leave through this door in an emergency (e.g. fire or your partner breaks in);
  • Dowel (thin wooden pole that can be bought from any hardware store) can be put in window runners and sliding doors to deter them from being forced open;
  • Consider installing security screens to as many external doors and windows as possible;
  • Peepholes are a good alternative to see who is at the door without opening. Do not open a door unless you know who is there. Do not be afraid to ask for ID;
  • Install outside sensor lights;
  • Consider installing cameras (or fake cameras). Low cost cameras are available online or from your local technology store;
  • If you have a landline, install an answering machine and use it to screen your incoming phone calls;
  • Consider bolts or locks on ceiling manhole covers to hinder entry to a house with a tiled roof.
  • Trim back plants near doors and windows to provide fewer hiding places;
  • If you have them, lock your garage, shed and side gate. Ensure all tools and implements that could be used against you are locked away;
  • Think about how someone could gain access to your property by coming over your fences. Consider moving objects away from your fence, such as rubbish bins, and trimming back branches that overhang your fence;
  • Padlock your mail box, so your mail can’t be opened or stolen. Even better, rent a post office box;
  • Ensure that your house number is clearly visible from the street, so that if you need to call for emergency help, you can easily be easily found. Teach your children, no matter how young, their address and how to call emergency services.
  • Ensure that you have a safety plan – see section 1d. Making a safety plan. Discuss this safety plan (as age appropriate) with your children and your supportive friends or family.
  • Consider using a safe word with your children, family and friends so that they know when to call police if its not safe for you to do so;
  • Most security measures are not infallible. They can only slow down someone gaining access to the property so that you can enact your safety plan and escape from the house if needed;
  • Reach out to specialist family and domestic violence services for support and advice regarding your specific circumstances. See section 1g. Support services/groups for women experiencing or recovering from family and domestic violence.

[Last update: 4/12/21]

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