It is hard to keep anything private in small communities, as people tend to know one another’s business. This can make it difficult to reach out for help, if you don’t want your partner knowing what you are doing or if you want to keep your family situation private.
Consider the following safety tips:
- If you live outside a city or town, find somewhere on your property where you can hide, even for a short period of time (barn or other outbuilding; a spot in a treed area that you can find easily but where your partner won’t think to look for you; somewhere on a neighbour’s property). Try to find somewhere you have cell phone reception so you can call for help if you need to.
- If you live in a small city or town, find a safe place you can get to quickly (a church in your community that is open 24 hours a day, a hospital, a neighbour you can trust to keep your privacy).
- Make an extra copy of the keys to any vehicles and hide them where you can grab them quickly.
- If you have nearby neighbours you trust, ask if you can have a spare key to their vehicles.
- If you have neighbours you trust who can see your house, set up a signal system so they know if you need help. For example, pulling a blind or closing or opening a curtain could signal that you need assistance.
- Make a plan with this neighbour about what this help would look like. Do you want the neighbour to drop by, claiming to have some other reason for doing so? Should they call and ask to speak to you?
- Make sure you know the official address to your rural property. Post this somewhere that is easy to see (for example on your refrigerator) in case someone other than you is making a 911 call.
- Find out how long the police response time would be if you had to call 911 for assistance.
- If you and your ex-partner have already separated, change the locks on your house and add additional security, including exterior lights, to the extent that your finances allow.
- Carefully consider what terms you would need in a restraining order for it to be helpful in keeping you safe. For example, what will be the impact of slow police response time? Is your community so small that it would be impossible for your ex-partner not to run into you? Do you work together in a family business such as a farm?
You may have concerns about firearms in your home or if you know your partner/ex-partner has access to firearms.
Tips for firearm safety:
- Learn as much as you safely can about any firearms your ex-partner has, including what kinds, how many, how much ammunition and where he keeps everything.
- Provide a list of this to a trusted family member, friend, neighbour and/or the police.
- Even if you know how to use a gun, do not rely on this to keep you safe because your ex-partner may be able to overpower you and use the weapon against you.