I am in the middle of a divorce with an unpredictable spouse who I feel could become dangerous. How do I create a personal safety plan? – Toni from Lincoln
First and foremost, what works for one person may not be a good solution for another individual. You need to figure out what works for you. The most important thing for your safety is to have a comprehensive plan that encompasses awareness, communication and protection. A firearm could be part of the equation in your safety plan, but only after you have completed proper training. It is also essential that you familiarize yourself with the gun laws in your area.
A good safety plan should cover some basics:
1. Secure Your Home
Make sure that it is secure and that all doors and windows can be locked and secured. If you need to hide keys, it is best to use locking key holders instead of unsecured spots such as the doormat or mailbox. Even small measures such as ensuring that landscaping does not provide easy places to hide can make you safer. If you are in a multifamily building, I recommend letting important people, like building staff or neighbors, know not to give access to particular individuals like your ex or any of his/her associates that could cause problems or be a threat. In buildings with manned security or doormen, this is easier than less secure buildings, but not impossible. Whenever possible, it is good idea to use security systems and cameras where appropriate and within budget.
2. Secure Your Vehicle
Always keep your vehicle secure and avoid parking in areas that can put you in a vulnerable situation. Additionally, always check the inside of the vehicle before getting in. As with homes, it is a good idea to integrate technology such as dash cams into your plan to be able to see and capture any threatening or dangerous behavior. If your car does not have a backup camera, it may make sense to get one installed as these can not only help you park, but also help you see your surroundings and possible threats sneaking up on your vehicle.
3. Be Aware of your Surroundings
Always be aware of your surroundings and take measures to ensure that you are never somewhere vulnerable. A good rule of thumb is well-lit, well-traveled and highly visible. Sometimes, danger areas are hard to avoid, but you can take measures to decrease your risk. Many parking garages, for example, will provide an escort to your car which can help you avoid being a target. Additionally, small measures like changing up your travel routes and behaviors make you less susceptible to danger.
4. Communicate with Friends and Family Members
Make sure that friends and family members know where you are especially when out and about. A regular check in schedule is a good way to make sure that they know you are safe. There are also great free options for your phone that can assist with this that can provide friends and family members GPS updates as to your whereabouts. Other applications for your phone can help you integrate a panic button into your plan which allows you to not only blast an audible alarm, but also send am alert to a predetermined set of recipients.
5. Be Careful of your Social Media and Digital Accounts
Make sure that you change all of your passwords regularly especially those associated with financial institutions. Your passwords should be hard to hack and should include letters (upper and lowercase), numbers and characters. Also, be careful about social media posts that could provide a means for you to be targeted. Small background aspects of a picture or geo-tagging of posts can provide information as to your whereabouts.
6. Protect Yourself
Make sure that you have some way to protect yourself. I recommend everybody, divorcing or not, take a basic self-defense class. This can and probably should be augmented by a weapon of some type to increase your odds of survival if it comes to that. Dependency on any one particular tool creates a weak point in your safety – whether that be physical defense, technology, or a weapon. If you follow the other tips, however, this should be somewhat unlikely. Keep in mind, however, that laws and safety considerations for self-defense weapons can vary greatly depending on the type and lethality, so you need to understand and account for these. Additionally, tools like firearms can put you in a more dangerous situation if not employed properly or if you do not practice and maintain them.
In the end, this is your plan. It needs to fit your resources, abilities and situation. If a firearm works for you, that is fine, but only if it is part of a comprehensive plan. Be careful of advice from Dirty Harry Wanna Be types as they are not always looking at the whole picture. If you need help with a plan, check with your local law enforcement body to see if they offer any help, ask questions of qualified friends and family or work with someone like a Divorce Safety Pro.
If you are considering divorce and have questions about how to get started with the process, reach out – we’re here to help, every step of the way.