A safety plan is a personalized, practical plan that includes ways to remain safe while in a relationship, when planning to leave, or after you have left. Safety planning involves how to cope with emotions, tell friends and family about the abuse, take legal action, and more. (From National DV Hotline)
Plan for safety in advance. Advocates at The Center are available 24/7 to help you create a safety plan and offer support and resources. Because everyone is unique and each situation is different, safety plans are personalized.
When safety planning, it is important to remember that you know your situation best and to trust your instincts. You are your own expert. Think about what you have done in the past to stay safe and how you can use it in the future to remain safe. You have the right to protect yourself until you are out of danger.
Safety Planning in a Relationship
Safety During an Explosive Incident
- Choose one or more neighbors you can trust to tell about the violence. Ask that they call the police immediately if they hear a disturbance coming from your home.
- Practice how to get out of your home safely. Identify which doors, windows, elevators, or stairwell would be best for a quick exit.
- If possible, keep a copy of important keys hidden where only you can access them.
- If an argument seems unavoidable, try to have it in a room or area where you have access to an exit. Try to stay away from the kitchen, bedroom, or anywhere else weapons might be available.
- Choose a code word to use with your children, family, friends, and neighbors so they will know when to alert the police for you. Teach your children how to call 911 and tell them what to do if they do not feel safe.
Safety When Preparing to Leave
Remember: When you leave a relationship it has potential to be more dangerous; safety planning is important.
- If you feel you are in immediate danger or in an emergency situation, always call 911.
- Keep The Center’s crisis line number with you. You can reach out to the crisis line 24/7 for connection to services, counseling, and other help.
- Leave money, an extra set of keys, copies of important documents, extra medicines, and clothes with someone you trust or in a safe place so you can leave quickly.
Safety After You Have Ended the Relationship
- If you will remain in the home, change locks on your doors as quickly as possible. Buy additional locks to secure your windows. Always ensure that smoke alarms are in working order.
- Inform your neighbor or landlord that your partner no longer lives with you and that they should immediately call the police if they see him or her near your home.
- Notify your children’s school or day care about who has permission to have contact with or who is allowed to pick up your children.
Safety at Work & in Public
- Decide whom at work you will inform of your situation. Depending on the nature of your occupation, it may be a good idea to reach out to human resources, building security, management staff, or a trusted coworker.
- Arrange to have your voicemail, caller ID, or a trusted friend screen your calls for you. Call blocking features can be an excellent way to keep an abusive partner from harassing you.
- Have someone escort you to your car or bus and wait with you until you are safely on your way.
- Alternate your travel routes home if possible.
- Plan for what you would do if something happened to make you feel unsafe while driving or traveling.
- Plan for what you would do if something happened to make you feel unsafe while in a public place like a shopping mall, movie theater, restaurant, or park.