DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - A woman is assaulted is the United States every nine seconds in the United States. Every minute, nearly 20 people are abused by a domestic partner. Over the next 12 months,1,300 people will die at the hands of a partner.
While domestic violence is a danger year-round, experts say the incidents increase around the holidays and continue peak during the early winter months.
For some, the phone is a lifeline. For others, it may be too little, too late.
One husband and wife team have made it their mission to spread the word about when to grab a bag and go. Charley and Tracy Vega are experts in violence prevention and survival.
“What we do is completely different than what most people think of as self-defense,” said Charley Vega, of Simple Self Defense for Women. “We teach you how to avoid being attacked. And then if you are attacked, we teach you how to escape, versus fight.”
The Vega’s say those in violent relationships need to plan in advance and keep a bag packed. The Vega’s say the contents of what they call a "go bag" may mean the difference between life and death.
Start by gathering critical paperwork, since you’ll need to start over with a new life in a new place.
“You want to have a copy of your IDs, passports, Social Security cards, your license that shows where you actually live now,” Tracy Vega said.
The Vega’s tell women to leave personal cellphones behind and keep a pre-paid disposable one in the bag. They are difficult to track.
“You want to have cash, because you don’t know whether you’re going to be at a hotel, or maybe need to take a cab or something like that,” Tracy Vega said. “You’re going to need money.”
Have a spare key to the car and house, and pack a duffel bag with essentials for the family.
“People who get the opportunity to escape get a very limited opportunity, and if you need to go, you need to go,” she said.
Ellen Siler, the CEO of Hubbard House, Jacksonville's safe haven for victims of domestic abuse, knows all too well how important it is to plan ahead.
"Sometimes people are coming to us in nothing but a hospital gown," Siler said. "We are able to provide everything until they can provide for themselves."
The Vegas suggest packing some of the abuser's things into the bag and, if it's discovered by the spouse, call it as an emergency preparedness kit for natural disasters. Siler said that's a good idea, but if you can leave the bag with someone you trust, that's the safest route.
"I think if you have a family emergency bag, that's fine, but that does not negate the need to have copies of some things off site with someone," Siler said. "If the abuser takes that bag and that's your only copy, the only things you've gathered up, you're back to square one."
The Vega’s add that women should also be aware of so-called tracker apps that an abuser may install on a partner’s cellphone without his or her knowledge. One more reason they say you should leave the personal phone behind.
For a checklist of items that should be inside of a go bag and other domestic violence resources, print a brochure from the Hubbard House website. But make sure you are linking from a computer or device that is not being tracked.
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