Create a Safety Plan Safety plans are personalized plans that include ideas on

how to stay safe while in a relationship with someone who is abusive. These plans often include steps to take when leaving and how to stay safe afterward. The National Domestic Violence Hotline offers a guide on

safety planning. But, you may need to get creative with your plan during this pandemic.

Understand Options May Be Limited Before the coronavirus pandemic, women often had the option to go to shelters or to stay with family or friends. Unfortunately, options are now limited. Some shelters may

be full or closed and staying with a family member may no lon- ger be an option. Find out ahead of time which houses you might be able to

escape to should you need to find a safe place to stay. Be sure to continue practicing good hygiene, washing your hands regu- larly, and avoiding touching your face no matter where you stay.

Keep Everything Together Make sure you have all of your important documents handy

and that you know the address to your nearest police station. You also should have some money on hand or a credit card,

as well as a bag with some clothes, medicines, and personal items. Keep your phone and keys nearby as well. You will need to grab these things quickly if you need to escape. Stay in Touch With People If at all possible, you should try to stay in touch with family

and friends. Use text messaging, FaceTime, social media, email, or other online options to communicate when you can. It's im-

portant to build a support network of people who can encourage you and support you during this difficult time. Be careful what you share though in case the person abusing

you is monitoring your online activity or abusing you electroni- cally.

Practice Self-Care Getting through this pandemic while experiencing abuse

can seem overwhelming, so taking care of your physical, emo- tional, and mental health is even more important. Look for ways to care for yourself while staying safe. For

instance, meditating, reciting mantras, journaling, and praying all are helpful ways of coping. Additionally, there are many on- line yoga and fitness classes that you can take for no charge. Even getting a few moments of fresh air can do wonders for

your mental health. Try to do something for yourself each day that eases your anxiety and fear.

Reach Out for Help If you or a loved one are a victim of domestic violence,

contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799- 7233 for confidential assistance from trained advocates. You also can use their online chat option to chat privately

with an advocate. These professionals can guide you in how to handle your situation or simply lend a supportive ear to listen.

By Sherri Gordon and Medically reviewed by Carly Snyder, MD. Reprinted from Verywell Mind, part of the Verywell family of brands, and a partner of the Cleveland Clinic. Visit www. for more info.

Dixon & Associates Therapy Services

We look at each patient as a unique individual, not a diagnosis. Personal attention is what our success is based on,

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