Safety Planning

A safety plan is a tool to help survivors focus on ways to keep themselves and their

children safe from violence and abuse.  It begins by assessing risk from all possible

angles, and will naturally be different for each survivor.  It will also vary based on

whether you are still with your abuser or if you have left.  Once you've developed

your plan, you will want to continue to occasionally review and revise it based upon

your current situation.

Remember that there is a danger with written safety plans that your abuser may find it.  Keep your safety plan and other important documents someplace other than your home.  Consider a locked drawer at work, a neighbor, or trusted friend or family member.

Every victim's situation is unique, but there are some general pointers that can get them headed in the right direction.  

FOR WOMEN WHO ARE STILL WITH THEIR ABUSER:

  • Practice routes to get out of your house safely.  Always know exactly where your purse and your keys are.

  • Make sure children know how to dial 911.

  • Consider confiding in a neighbor about what's going on.  Ask them to call the police if they hear an altercation.

  • Get in contact with your local domestic violence shelter.  Even if you never intend to leave your abuser, it's important to have someone to talk to who understands what you are experiencing and can offer you emotional support and more specialized safety planning.

  • Think about which areas in your home are more "low-risk" to go to during an argument.  Try to avoid the kitchen, where knives are easily accessible.  Try to get somewhere that you will have access to an outside door.

  • Consider having a code word or phrase with children that lets them know to leave the room, and to call 911 if possible.

  • Keep a journal of what's going on.  Make sure it's in a place where he won't find it.  Because abusers are so good at making their victims doubt themselves and feel like they're at fault, it's helpful for you to be able to review occasionally.

FOR WOMEN WHO ARE THINKING ABOUT LEAVING:

  • Find a trusted person that can hold important things for you.  Start moving things that he's less likely to notice missing.  Important things that you're going to want are: medications, birth certificates and social security cards for you and your kids, money and credit cards, keys, pictures, medical records, children's favorite toy or blanket, jewelry or items of sentimental value.

  • Open a savings account.

  • Rehearse your escape plan, and practice it with the children, if appropriate.

  • If you are going to need financial assistance to get started on your own, start researching now.  There are many social service agencies that can help with first month's rent, deposits, utility deposits, etc. Occasionally there are additional funds available specifically for victims of domestic abuse.

 

FOR WOMEN WHO ARE OUT ON THEIR OWN:

  • Consider getting a protective order.  Your local domestic violence project can likely help you through the process. While it's only a piece of paper, it does make it easier to take legal action against him.

  • In most cases, police are willing to do a brief walk-through of people's homes to help them assess safety.  They can make sure doors and windows are secure, that your locks area adequate, etc.

  • Walk around the outside of your home.  If you were to break in, where would you target?  Those are the areas you want to strengthen.

  • Make sure you have a phone to call for help.  If you can't afford a phone, many domestic violence projects have programs that provide 911 cell phones to people in need.

  • If you have children, make sure that the school and daycare providers know who is and is not allowed to pick them up. 

  

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