Putting safety strategies in place when you still live together
For all sorts of reasons, you may not be able to leave your partner or the accommodation you share. There are strategies you can put in place to try and protect yourself and your children. But please remember that you are never safe with someone who has already demonstrated abusive or controlling behaviour.
Verified by Charlotte Huntz, Police Commissioner, on 31/05/2023
If you are still living with your partner or ex-partner and they demonstrate abusive behaviour, please remember that you and your children are never completely safe. As a very last resort, you can take the following steps to help protect yourself.
It is common to feel ashamed about what you are experiencing. But finding the strength to talk about it is a very important step.
Think about the people you can trust and who could support you:
- healthcare professionals
- your children's teachers
- other parents at your children's nursery or school.
Having a neighbour you trust can be very useful:
- tell them what you are experiencing
- choose a code word or visual signal together that you can use
- decide what to do together if you use this code, for example call the police on 17.
Even if this cannot guarantee your safety, it is important to be able to find or create safer spaces in your home:
- rooms where there are no weapons or objects that could be used as weapons such as knives, scissors and tools
- rooms that have an exit if needed, for example a door to the outside or a window on the ground floor
- rooms that can be locked where you can call the police on 17 or send them a message with your address via 114.
While they cannot guarantee your safety, there are steps you can take to try and protect yourself:
- keep your phone with you at all times so you can call someone close to you or the police in an emergency
- lock away potential weapons like knives, scissors and tools or keep them as far from reach as possible
- identify other ways to call the police if you don't have your phone, for example, with the help of a neighbour or at a public place nearby that's open at night
- keep a spare set of keys in a safe place in case your partner confiscates yours
- make a habit of topping up on fuel and keeping your car ready to use in case you suddenly have to leave
- avoid wearing accessories around your neck like scarves and long necklaces
- even if you are not planning to leave your partner yet, get organised for the day you decide to leave.
It is vital that you protect your children as much as you possibly can from your partner’s violent behaviour:
- tell them never to intervene in an abusive situation
- identify a place where they can be safe if your partner becomes violent
- set up a signal with them so that they know when to seek help or leave the house
- teach them how to call for help.
In France, there are many services that can support you, give you advice, and assist you with procedures and paperwork. Most of them are free of charge.
This telephone counselling service is intended for people facing all types of violence and those who support them.
- This service is free of charge.
- On the telephone, a trained counsellor will listen to you and support you. They can then direct you to relevant services near you.
- Available languages: French. Sometimes the following languages are available: English, Arabic, Spanish, Turkish, Mandarin, Chinese, Kurdish, Azeri, Polish, Hebrew, Farsi, Soninké, Creole, Kinyarwanda, Kirundi and Swahili. At present, these languages are unfortunately available at irregular and unscheduled times.
- Contact: call 3919, available 24/7. The call will not appear on your telephone bill.
- For people who are deaf, have difficulties hearing, people with aphasia or who have language impairments, you can access a service adapted for your needs by clicking on the telephone icon at the bottom right of the website www.solidaritefemmes.org.
The role of the police is to ensure the safety of all people, whatever their situation, even for people without French residency rights. A police officer will be able to advise you and offer assistance 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. You can contact the police in four main ways:
- By telephone: call 17, a free number. Languages available: interpretation in all languages.
- By text message: send an SMS to 114 in French, specifying your exact address.
- Online: chat service. This service is available in many languages.
- Go to any police station, i.e. either a “commissariat de police” or a “brigade de gendarmerie”. You can find the closest police station to you on this website. If you don't speak French, they will need to find you an interpreter, this can take some time.
There are two services that can assist you in the case of a medical emergency in France.
The ambulance service called “Service d’aide médicale urgente (SAMU)” and the emergency services called “pompiers”. If you need emergency medical attention, they can help you quickly and take you to a nearby hospital.
- In the event of a life-threatening emergency, you do not need to be registered for state health insurance or have valid residency rights to use these services.
- If there are fees because they estime it was not an emergency, these fees can be covered by your state and private health insurance.
- Languages available: interpretation in all languages.
- Contact: call 112, a free number available 24/7.
While the utmost care has gone into providing you with the most accurate and up to date information, this page is not intended to replace legal or professional advice. Laws and procedures change regularly so it is important to consult qualified professionals.