I just have to get away and need a safety plan
It can be difficult to make decisions about what to do next when you are in a toxic relationship. If something about your relationship makes you feel uncomfortable or even afraid, it is worth taking a closer look.
We would like to support you in your decision-making process.
I just have to get away and need a safety plan
I have to protect my children
I am thinking about breaking up with my partner
I stay with my partner, despite feeling anxious
I want to file charges
I am worried about my mental health
I am unsure what to do and need more information
You are worried about your safety in your relationship and want to make a plan for emergencies.
Violent partners can be unpredictable.
A safety plan can help you escape a violent situation and better prepare you for an emergency.
We recommend the following:
If you often worry about your safety, we also recommend that you fill out this questionnaire to determine the level of danger you might face in your relationship.
You are in an abusive relationship and have children. What can you do?
Understand the effects of violence on your children
It is extremely stressful for children to witness violence between their parents. Often, they are more aware of what’s happening than parents expect. A home that doesn’t feel safe can have damaging and long-lasting effects on a child’s health, development, and well-being. Children often believe that they are to blame for the violence. Or, like you, they may feel alone, insecure, frightened, powerless, and confused.
Protect your children
It is your responsibility as a parent to protect your children.
Know where to go for help
You may believe that you will be blamed for failing as a parent when you seek help. You are not to blame for someone else’s abuse. Seeking help is being a good parent.
Both you and your children can get support and counselling for domestic violence. We strongly recommend that you do this. Here you can find a general overview of support services (also for minors) in Switzerland. Many of them work with translators.
Good to know:
You’re thinking about leaving your abusive partner.
What should you be aware of?
Know that violence can escalate during that time. Recognize the signs.
According to experts, leaving an abusive relationship can be very dangerous. The intensity of violence and risk of homicide becomes particularly high during the period of separation.
Your partner might escalate their aggression to keep you from leaving. It is very important that you take precautionary measures to keep yourself as safe as possible. Has your partner already shown such controlling behaviour? Are you afraid to leave for good? If so, you should seek help.
Your safety is most important.
Think about an emergency plan. You could agree on an emergency signal with your friends or family members. This can be a word, phrase, or other signal that you can use to alert them if you feel you are in danger. Pack an emergency bag with everything you need in case you have to leave the house quickly.
You have a bad gut feeling, but you want to stay in the relationship or have other reasons why you cannot separate from your partner right now.
Generally, experts recommend ending an abusive relationship and getting help from victim advisory centres. But we know that making such a decision can be difficult – and you don’t have to be ashamed of that. It often takes several attempts to leave an abusive partner.
If you are not ready to leave yet, we recommend the following:
Are you thinking about filing charges against an abusive partner?
Please note that you have three months after the incident to do so. We recommend that you contact a victim advisory center, they can support you in your decision-making.
Here's what else you need to know.
When can you file a criminal complaint?
It is important to distinguish whether an offense is an official offense (German “Offizialdelikt”, French “délits”) or an offense prosecutable on complaint (German “Antragsdelikt”, French “plainte”). An official offense is prosecuted by the authorities’ initiative. If the police learn of an official offense, they will automatically initiate prosecution. In the case of an offense prosecutable on complaint, you as the person concerned must file a criminal complaint. In both cases, you can go to the police to report the offense.
Official offenses in the area of domestic violence include:
Offenses prosecutable on complaint include:
In the case of offenses prosecutable on complaint, you can withdraw the criminal complaint; in the case of an official offense, only the criminal authority can do so.
Why should I file a complaint?
When a complaint is filed, the authorities investigate whether a criminal act has taken place. If so, the accused person will be brought to justice. We recommend that you seek advice on whether to file a complaint. If you are unsure, you can still reach out to experts (e.g. from victim advisory centers or women's shelters) so that they can best prepare you for the process and answer all your questions.
How can you document the violence?
It can be helpful to record incidents of abuse, espeically if you want to pursue legal actions. There are different ways in which you can document violent behavior:
You're not feeling or sleeping well. You feel emotionally numb. You are easily startled.
Physical and emotional violence in a relationship can have long-lasting and far-reaching impacts on your health and well-being, especially on your mental health:
These consequences can greatly affect and limit your quality of life. You may have little energy to go about your daily life and experience difficulties to concentrate on your work or studies.
If you find yourself in a toxic relationship, you might feel all alone in the world. It can be relieving to confide in those around you or seek professional help. Victim advisory centres can help you find a therapist in your area.
You're not sure if you are experiencing violence in your relationship?
Toxic relationships are not always easy to identify. In many cases, such relationships burn hot in the beginning, they can feel exhilarating and passionate. Your partner may shower you with attention and affection. Once the relationships dynamics change, it might be difficult to recognize the warning signs and unhealthy behaviors. Particularly emotional abuse such as constant criticism and controlling behavior often go unnoticed and are not recognized as violence.
However, many victims report a feeling of unease and that there is something amiss. If you feel a similar way, we advise you to inform yourself as thoroughly as possible. The better you can identify your partner's toxic behavior patterns, the sooner you can get support and make the right decisions for you.