Staying Safe

If you're in an abusive relationship, you need to plan ahead for your safety. You also need to plan ahead for the safety of your children. 

  • Start to position yourself to get out quickly or near a phone so you can call 9-1-1 if necessary.
  • Try to move to a space where the risk is lowest. Try to avoid arguments where there might be items that could be used as weapons (such as the kitchen, bathroom or garage) or rooms without access to the outside.
  • Use your judgment and intuition – do whatever will keep you safe.
  • When, or after, you have been assaulted, call the police at 9-1-1 if you can. Tell them you have been assaulted by your spouse/partner/boyfriend.
  • If you are able to leave, take your children with you if you can. If you try to get them later, the police cannot help you remove them from their other parent unless you have a valid court order.
  • Make arrangements with friends or family so you can stay with them if necessary. Teach children how to use the phone (including your cell phone if you have one) to call 9-1-1 to contact the police.
  • Figure out your emergency exits/escape plan. Teach them to your children and know them well. If you cannot leave because of a disability, contact a women’s shelter to make arrangements for transportation.
  • If you have call display on your phone, be careful who can get access to the stored numbers (e.g., the last number dialed).
  • Use caution when storing numbers on your cell phone and/or using your computer.
  • Open a bank account in your own name and arrange that no bank statements or other calls be made to you, or arrange for mail to be sent to a friend or family member.
  • Save and set aside as much money as you can.
  • Plan your transportation and any associated costs. Gillian's Place will send a taxi and can cover the costs of your trip to the shelter if you are coming to stay with us.
  • Develop and teach your children their own safety plan.
  • Keep your phone charged and with you at all times. Pre-program the number of people to call when you need help.
  • Be aware of your surroundings at all times.
  • If you have a protection order or custody and access documents, keep them with you at all times.
  • If you are moving to a confidential location, consider using a mailing address that is different from the one where you are actually living (e.g., set up a post office box)
  • Be aware that addresses can be listed on police reports and restraining orders. Before filling out your address on any form, ask if there is a way to keep your address confidential. If not, ask if you can use a P.O. Box or friend’s address instead.
  • Try to make sure the outside of your home is well lit. Install a motion-detection light if possible.
  • Keep bushes etc. around your house well-trimmed, making it harder for someone to hide.
  • Install extra security systems in your home if possible (e.g., additional locks, window bars, an electronic security system).
  • Change the locks on the windows and doors if you are returning to your former home. Install a peephole in the door. Change the locks on your garage and mailbox.
  • Consider having your phone number unlisted.
  • Do not put your name in your apartment directory.
  • Notify service providers (e.g., your doctor) not to give out your appointment times to your partner.
  • Consider telling your neighbours about the situation. Make a plan with them for when you need help (e.g., to look after you children in an emergency)
  • Teach your children not to answer the door.
  • Teach your children to call 9-1-1 and what to say.
  • Encourage your children to go to another room where they can leave or lock the door if they are afraid for their safety. Reassure them that they are not responsible for your safety.
  • Change your routines (e.g., shop at different times/locations than you usually would) to make it harder for your partner to find you.
  • If you are in a vehicle and believe you are being followed, drive to the nearest police station.
  • If you are walking and believe you are being followed, cross the street, go into the nearest public place and call 9-1-1.
  • Park where your vehicle cannot be easily seen if your partner drives by.
  • Inform your employer or school of your situation. Ask about taking a temporary leave or about changing your duties while you gauge the abuser’s response.
  • Always park as close to a building as you can in a well-lit area. Check the back seat before getting into your vehicle.
  • Consider carrying a personal alarm or whistle.
  • Ask for an escort to your car.
  • When walking, stay in populated areas.
  • Always let someone know when you will be home.


For instructions on how to create a personalized Safety Plan, including Emergency Escape Plan, Emotional Safety Plan and Child Safety Plan, call Gillian's Place. 

Remember, you can't do it all at once. One step at a time, one day at a time, you will become more and more safety conscious, more and more risk-aware. Also remember you are not alone. We are always just a telephone call away at 905-684-8331.

Cover your Internet tracks. If you have surfed this and/or other websites you will have left a trail that allows others to see which websites you have visited.

Following these steps should clear your browser's history and cache files; however, this does not guarantee that information will not be left on your browser. Please exercise caution with any device that can track your online activities -- this includes your phone. 

We recommend browsing the internet in private mode where possible. For example, both Safari and Google Chrome offer private browsing modes. On Google Chrome you can select to browse the Internet using the New Incognito Window that will NOT save your history, downloads, and cookies. The incognito window will open a new window for you to safely browse any website. To access the New Incognito Window mode, click on the three dots on the right-hand corner of your browser and select New Incognito Window from the list that appears. When you are done browsing, simply close the window. On Safari, click on the File button that appears at the top of the menu and select New Private Window. You can now browse the internet without having your searches documented on your device. When you're done, simply close the window. Similar private browsing modes exist on your smartphone.

Clearing History and Cache Files

Internet Explorer

1. Tap on the Tools icon in the menu section, at the top right hand corner of the browser. 
2. Click on Internet Options.
3. In the General tab under Internet Options, click on Delete… in the Browsing History section. You will be directed to a new tab. 
4. Under the Delete Browsing History tab, click on History. This will clear the pages you've recently visited. You will also have the option of clearing Temporary Internet files and website files and Cookies and website data. We recommend selecting all three boxes. 
5. Select the Delete button at the very end for changes to take effect. Press the OK button as a last step to close the Internet Options box. 

Mozilla Firefox

Clear your entire browsing history:
1. Go to the History panel on your home screen.
2. Tap on Clear browsing history at the bottom of the History panel.
3. Tap OK to confirm.

Clear specific items from your browser:
1. Tap the menu button (either below the screen on some devices or at the top-right corner of the browser) and select Settings (you may need to tap More first).
2. Tap Clear private data.
3. Put a check mark next to the items you want to clear and then tap Clear data.

Google Chrome

1. Tap on the three small dots at the top right corner of your browser. 
2. From the list that appears select History. At this point you can click and delete individual websites that appear in your search history. You also have the option to select Clear Browsing Data on the left hand side to remove your browsing history over a specific frame of time. 
3. After selecting Clear Browsing Data, you will be given a Basic and Advanced option. You can click on the Basic tab, choose the “Last Hour” time range and place a check mark next to all three boxes (Browsing History, Cookies and other site data, and Cached images and files). We recommend avoiding clearing all history as this may appear suspicious. Ideally you want to delete your browsing data from the past hour or day to cover your recent tracks.
4. Click on Clear Data and close the window.


1. From the Safari menu at the top of the computer, click Clear History.

2. You will be prompted to choose between The Last Hour, Today, Today & Yesterday, or All History. Again, we recommend avoiding clearing all history as this may appear suspicious. Ideally you want to delete your browsing data from the past hour or day to cover your recent tracks.

3. Click Clear History after selecting the type of history you’d like to delete. At this point, you are done. 


Cover your email tracks

1. Be sure to delete any outgoing and incoming emails.
2. Change your email password often (at least once a month).
3. Print all threatening and harassing emails to use as evidence of criminal activity.

Don’t forget popular messaging apps 

1. Many users utilize SMS/text and popular messaging Apps such as WhatsApp, Telegram, Facebook Messenger, Viber and so forth.
2. When sharing sensitive material through text or messages, please remember that if your phone can be accessed, these messages can be seen. Be sure to delete sensitive content as soon as possible. Do not leave any information lingering on your phone. 
3. When possible, do not share your phone’s security password with others. 

More information 

Please visit TechSafety for more information and resources about net safety. 



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