Self-Sufficiency Guide

This guide is intended to be included, but is not meant to replace your domestic violence safety plan. If you do not have a safety plan, please contact your local domestic violence service provider for assistance. If you are in immediate danger, please call 911.
1. Important Documents to Take With You:
  • Order of Protection
  • Social Security Card
  • Medical Records
  • Address Book
  • Insurance Documents
  • Pet Records
  • Marriage/Divorce Papers
  • Photo Identification
  • Credit/Debit Cards
  • Birth Certificate
  • Copy of Your Lease
  • Vehicle Registration
  • Password List
  • Vaccination Records
  • Bank Statements
  • Tax Records/W-2’s
  • Police Records/Photos
  • School Records
  • Checkbook
  • Loan Information
2. If possible, a safety deposit box at a bank is an ideal place to keep these records. If you cannot get a safety deposit box, another option would be to leave them with a relative that you can trust. Your important documents are essential and will be necessary if you plan to apply for benefits or take legal action.
A safety deposit box with a key lock can be purchased from Walmart for around twenty dollars.
3.  Take a Financial Inventory. Knowing where you stand financially is an important aspect to escaping abuse and reaching economic independence.
4.  If possible, being setting aside money in a safe place, if you can do so without jeopardizing your safety – even if it is just a few dollars.
5. Obtain a copy of your Credit Report from all three credit bureaus. This can be done (one a year) for free at www.annualcreditreport.com
6. If you suspect that you have been or are about to be a victim of identity theft, you can place a Fraud Alert on your Credit File. If you suspect that your abuser has or will attempt to use your credit for financial gain, a Fraud Alert will prevent them from opening more accounts in your name. An initial Fraud Alert stays on your Credit File for at least 90 days, but can be extended for up to seven years. www.ftc.gov has more information about identity theft and fraud alerts. You also have the option to place a credit freeze on your credit file. Credit freeze laws vary from state to state. A credit freeze prevents potential creditors and other third parties from accessing your credit report at all, unless you life the freeze or already have a relationship with the company.
7. Do some research and find out what services and benefits are available to you. This includes Government benefits such as housing vouchers and temporary assistance for needy families. www.benefits.gov has an online tool to help you determine which benefits you may be eligible to receive. Remember to perform this search from a computer that you feel safe using.
8. If you do not have a cell phone or will have to leave your phone behind, look into an income-eligible free cell phone program such as the program available through www.safelinkwireless.com
9. Use a Safe E-Mail Address for all electronic communication. Ensure that you are utilizing an email account that you consider to be safe and that your abuser cannot access.
10. Change ALL User Names and Passwords, and we recommend avoiding any social networking sites. If you continue to use social networking, then remember that the internet is a public resource and evaluate your privacy settings. Limit the amount of personal information that you post, and do not post information that would make you vulnerable such as your address or your schedule/routine.
11. Keep up-to-date documentation. This is the most pro-active step that a victim can take. If a case goes to trial, victims will need to recall specific events and information for court proceedings. Document all incidents and injuries – it is important to keep track of facts, times and dates of each incident.
Each situation is unique and this is not a comprehensive list. If you have a concern that has not been addressed, please contact your local domestic violence service provider for assistance.