A safety plan is a tool to help you identify possible ways to protect yourself, your children and family members from physical abuse. It can increase your safety in an emergency. Whether you live with your abuser or are separated, the measures you take to increase your safety are the most important things you can do.
It is possible that the abuser may become more dangerous when realizing that you are serious about ending the relationship. You should be well prepared with a safety plan at the point that you decide to leave.
Call a domestic violence agency for help with Please contact your local domestic violence agency to create a safety plan specific to you. You can find contact information for the domestic violence agency in your area in our Helpful Resources. With a link to the new and improved plug-in interactive map of our “Guide to Services”.
DEVELOP A SAFETY PLAN IN ADVANCE
- Plan how you will leave your home. Practice how to get out quickly. Decide which doors, windows, stairwell, or fire escape you will need to use.
- Plan where you will stay if you need to leave in a hurry. Make arrangements beforehand such as to stay with a friend or family member. Set aside money for a hotel or have the telephone number for a shelter.
- Obtain a cell phone. If you cannot afford cell phone service, most police departments and domestic violence programs can provide a free cell phone programmed only for emergency calls. Keep your cell phone charged.
- Keep the number(s) for the nearest domestic violence hotline on hand near the telephones in your home, in your purse and car, and programmed into your cell phone. The hotline numbers can be found at the end of this booklet.
- Gather and store clothing for yourself and your children in a hidden area in the house or at a friend’s or relative’s home.
- Notify neighbors to contact the police if they hear a loud argument. Have a plan to contact the police in case you can’t reach them yourself. For example, teach your children how to call 911 for help in an emergency or devise a code word to use with your children, family members, or neighbors when you need the police.
- Open a savings and/or checking account in your own name. Think of other ways in which you can increase your independence.
Gather important papers and other necessities and store copies of them in a secret place away from your home.
SAFETY PLAN CHECKLIST
• Birth Certificates
• Social Security Cards
• Green Cards/Visas
• School Records
• Driver’s License, Car Registration, Insurance Card
- Set of House Keys/Car Keys
- Cell Phone Charger
- Suitcase with Clothes
- Police Reports
- Copy of Restraining Orders
- Marriage/Divorce/Legal Papers
- Money/Credit Cards
- Income Tax Returns
- Wage/Income Information
- Bank Account Information
- Vaccination Records
- Medical Insurance Cards
- Medications/Medical Records
SAFETY DURING A VIOLENT INCIDENT
- Leave the home immediately, if possible. Go to a safe place and then contact the police.
- If an argument seems unavoidable, move into a room that has access to an exit or telephone. Try to avoid rooms such as the bathroom, garage, or kitchen where your abuser can use common household items as weapons.
- Call the police (911) and/or devise a code word to use with your children, family members, or neighbors when you need the police
- Use your own instincts and judgment to remove yourself safely from the dangerous situation.
SAFETY WHEN YOUR ABUSER NO LONGER LIVES WITH YOU OR NEVER DID
- Change the locks on your doors as soon as possible. Purchase additional locks and/or safety devices to secure your windows.
- Change all your phone numbers and add a call-screening service to your phone.
- Change your e-mail address as well as your online passwords, security questions, and PIN codes. Call your utility company and ask them to add a password that only you know to your account.
- Limit your use of social media and make sure your privacy settings on your social networking pages are up-to-date.
- Close your bank accounts and re-open new ones at a different bank than the abuser uses.
- Get a new computer, if possible. If you cannot get a new computer, take steps to delete spyware on your computer.
- Discuss the safety plan with your children for those times you may not be with them. If possible, provide them with a cell phone when they go for visits with your abuser or arrange alternate plans for them if they feel they are in danger.
- Inform neighbors/landlord that your abuser no longer lives with you and that they should contact the police if they see your abuser near your home.
- After getting a Temporary or Final Restraining Order, keep it with you at all times. Keep copies at work, at the children’s schools, with a family member or friend.
- Make safety arrangements at work, such as being walked to and from the parking lot, having your calls screened, and notifying the security guards about the potential for danger.
- Where possible, avoid familiar locations (such as stores and restaurants) where your abuser will be likely to look for you.