If for any reason you have an instinct (or proof) that your veteran is becoming aggressive
and/or violent, please take the following words to heart.  
Family Of A Vet cares and we
want to help keep you and your family safe.  Veterans can and do learn to deal with PTSD
(Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) and families can go on to lead happy, healthy lives
together.  However, the time before a Veteran seeks help can be especially dangerous.

When a veteran is becoming aggressive, it is time to get a plan in place.  You might not
need this plan, but if you ever DO need it, it’s there.

Plan in advance for two locations for your escape plan.  Your Primary Location is the first
“stop” on your escape route.  It’s an overnight stay, a place to organize and regroup, get
your immediate necessities, and move on.  It’s not a long-term stop because it’s too close
to your spouse and is likely somewhere he knows the location of.  Your Secondary
Location is where you go after the Primary Location.  It’s somewhere with an amount of
distance between your spouse and you where you can safely stay for a reasonable amount
of time if necessary.

Primary Location

The ideal primary location MUST be within walking distance of your home.  You may not
have access to the car and/or car keys when you leave and most likely will be going with
what is on your back.  You will most likely leave with no clothes, no money, no toiletries,
and no cell phone.  So you must plan ahead for the worst possible scenario.  Also, let the
person at this location know that you may need access 24/7.  This place may/may not be
someone’s home.  If a home is not available, consider stashing these items at your place of
work, your fitness center, or a local church.  If you cannot sleep at your primary location,
plan in advance for a location to sleep for the night such as money stashed for a hotel or a
member of the church/someone from work you can contact.

At your primary location, stash the following:

  1. A minimum of one change of clothes for every member of your family.   This must be
    updated seasonally and as sizes change.  The clothes you stashed last year for
    your two year old will not fit the following year when you need them.  I recommend
    every time you rotate clothing to rotate the clothes that are stashed.  If you have an
    infant, toddler, or child who is potty training, I recommend having a minimum of 3
    sets of clothes on hand.
  2. A set of immediate necessities for every member of your family.  This should also be
    updated when you update the clothing.  This should be a 3-day supply of everything
    you need.  For those with infants and toddlers, pack diapers, wipes, formula, age-
    appropriate food choices (baby food, toddler snacks, etc.), diaper rash crème,
    thermometer, burp cloth, bottles with disposable liners (bad for the environment but
    GREAT on the go), and baby shampoo (which can double as wash in a pinch).  For
    older children, pack games, educational workbooks, hairbrushes/combs,
    toothbrushes and toothpaste.  Hairspray for your teenager and a 24 pack of
    Mountain Dew for your soda addict are cheap additions that will mean you care. For
    YOURSELF, pack toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, hairbrush and essential styling
    accessories (a hair tie or two are essential).  If you will have to return to work
    immediately, make sure you stash an additional set of clothing that will function for
    work. Don’t Forget!  Shoes, socks, and underwear!!!  3 days in the same undies is
    NOT what you want to be thinking about after you arrive.
  3. A list of critical phone numbers.  Don’t plan on having your cell phone and don’t plan
    on remembering what you need to know.  Write it down and put it in with your
    clothing.  Include the numbers of your secondary location, your family’s contact
    information, the number to your healthcare professionals, the number to your
    pharmacy (in case of needing immediate refills) and the phone numbers of any other
    people you may need to contact.
  4. An emergency “Pay As You Go” type cell phone.  These can be purchased cheap
    from Wal-Mart and many dollar stores and provide you with an immediate mobile
    phone.  Try to store some minutes on it in advance so you are ready to go.
  5. Other odds and ends: A copy of every single vital thing in your purse in case you
    need to leave it behind.  This includes the front and back of all credit cards,
    insurance cards, driver’s license, and military ID (if still applicable).  You also will
    need a book of checks (in case you can’t access your purse).  I recommend (if
    possible) stashing a prepaid debit card (the type with a common credit card logo)
    with enough “emergency funds” for yourself.  At the very least, it will make paying for
    emergency things easier.  Another option is to stash a credit card you don’t use
    often with a high available balance.  
  6. Plan ahead and apply for a State ID for every member of your family.  This will be of
    infinite assistance if you need to travel by plane, train, or bus.  Plus, if you stash a
    credit card, you will need it to use your credit card legally as a form of identification.

Secondary Location

Identify your secondary location (or multiple options) in advance.  Outline plans on getting
there if you do not have your car available.  Make certain you have enough funds stashed
that you are able to access in an emergency to get there safely and quickly.  If you’re
planning to travel by air, make certain you stash the documentation you will need to fly
ahead of time.  Make certain your secondary location is accessible to you and your family
and you have the emergency numbers to contact the people there.

Check your local laws.  You might not be able to take your children across state lines, even
in an emergency.  Make certain you have your I’s dotted and your T’s crossed before you
leave the immediate area.

Knowing Where to Draw the Line

It is never our intention to encourage divorce among Veteran families.  Our Veterans
deserve and need our help and support in order to learn to cope with PTSD and go on to
lead the happy, healthy lives that they deserve.  At the same time, it is unhealthy for you
and your children to live permanently in an abusive environment.  Each person's "line" is
different - the point at which you feel you must temporarily or permanently remove yourself
and your children from the abusive situation in order to ensure your own safety and future

If you need help locating an adequate primary or secondary location or planning your
escape route,
please contact Family Of A Vet.  We will assist you if it is at all possible in
your planning process.

This article was written by our own Heather Hummert, the wife of an OIF Veteran & Purple
Heart Recipient.  If you would like to contact Heather directly, you can e-mail her at
Heather -at- FamilyOfAVet.com or

The following articles about dealing with Domestic Violence are also available on Family Of
A Vet:

What is Domestic Violence? - An article which covers the many different types of violence
which can occur within a home.

When Nightmares Become Real (Part 1): Creating a Safe Place for Children - A step-by-
step guide on creating a safe haven for your children in the event of the unthinkable.

When Nightmares Become Real: Part 2

Creating an Escape Plan

FamilyOfaVet - Real world info about PTSD, TBI, & life after combat
FamilyOfaVet - Real World info about PTSD, TBI, & life after combat.
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