Assessing Your Safety

It is advised that you seek professional assistance when assessing your safety.  Victim Services of York Region, local shelter, and Domestic Abuse and Sexual Assault (DASA) nurses are all available to provide assessments of your situation and to offer safety planning.

There are many factors involved in assessing your safety. The most important is your own intuition and sense of security. However, below is a list of situations to review and be aware of when considering your own personal safety. It is not an exhaustive list, but these trends have been noted in many cases of domestic violence and any escalation of behaviours should be taken seriously. A situation only has to occur twice to be considered an escalation.


Does the abuser change just before becoming violent?

  • The look in their eyes changes
  • Their posture changes (fists clenched, etc.)
  • Their voice changes
  • Their face changes (expression/colour)
  • They threaten you verbally or non-verbally before striking you


Does your behaviour change before violence?

  • Physical responses to fear you may feel before an attack (stomach pains, headache, tight feeling in your chest)
  • Anxiety


What circumstances usually exist before you are abused?

  • Alcohol/Drugs
  • Lack of money
  • Pay day
  • Day of Week
  • Time of Year
  • Are certain people around?
  • Are certain people not around?
  • Were you in your home or outside?
  • Birthdays
  • Anniversaries
  • Holidays
  • Sports events


Other things to consider when assessing your situation:

  • The abuser expresses fantasies or threats of homicide or suicide
  • Pending or actual separation
  • A new relationship
  • Other dates or events that remind the abuser of diminished control
  • Pregnancy
  • Children in your home
  • Threats of, or actual, child abuse; child(ren) witnessing violence
  • Prior use of, access to or possession of weapons (guns, knives, ropes, martial arts, etc)
  • Being isolated by where you live, your culture, your race, your religion, your disability, etc.
  • Obsessiveness about you or family
  • Possessiveness and control of you
  • Extent and escalation of prior violence
  • Threats of violence to you
  • Previous police intervention
  • Known violence with others
  • Ignoring or violating court orders
  • Pet abuse
  • Abuser engages in criminal activity outside of the home


Even if there has been no physical violence in your relationship in the past, leaving a relationship puts many individuals at an even greater risk of physical abuse.

Your abusive partner may use physical violence if other methods of controlling you have lost their effectiveness. Your decision to leave could be interpreted by your partner as a signal that verbal, emotional, financial or sexual control methods are not working.

Remember:  when you leave, or say you're leaving, the danger may escalate. Prepare for this with planning, observation and careful action.