Whether you are in an unhealthy relationship, experiencing abuse, thinking about leaving, or planning to leave you should develop a personalized safety plan that will give you practical knowledge on how to act in specific situation, empowering you to know how to react and avoid dangerous situations.
A safety plan can increase your chances of escaping a violent or dangerous situation, and it can help you create a solid plan to leave permanently with everything you need to file charges and not have to come in contact with your abuser again.
A safety plan is not a replacement for calling 911, filing for an order of protection or contacting a lawyer. In many cases, a safety plan involves some of those steps.
Tips for Creating a Safety Plan
If you are in a situation and feel you need a safety plan, you’ve come to the right place. You may be planning to leave or in the process of leaving, or maybe you’ve left already. Even if if you have a family member or friend who is experiencing abuse, you can help support them and assist them with a safety plan. A safety plan should be tailored to the individual’s needs at the present time.
Think of your safety plan as a life preserver. If the abuse happened once, it will happen again.
Before You Leave:
- Keep any evidence of abuse, such as pictures of injuries, texts, emails, etc.
- Keep a journal of all violent incidences, noting dates, events and threats made, if possible. Keep your journal in a safe place.
- Know where you can go to get help. Tell someone what is happening to you.
- If you are injured, go to a doctor or an emergency room and report what happened to you. Ask that they document your visit.
- If you have children, identify a safe place for them, like a room with a lock or a friend’s house where they can go for help. Reassure them that their job is to stay safe, not to protect you.
- If you need a safe place to stay, contact your local shelter and find out about laws and other resources available to you before you have to use them during a crisis. WomensLaw.org has state by state legal information.
- Acquire job skills or take courses at a community college as you can.
- Try to set money aside or ask friends or family members to hold money for you.
- Get your “Bug-Out” Bag ready with all your important items, documents, etc.
After You Leave
- Change your locks and phone number.
- Call the telephone company to request caller ID. Ask that your phone number be blocked so that if you call anyone, neither your partner nor anyone else will be able to get your new, unlisted phone number.
- Change your work hours and the route you take to work.
- Alert school authorities of the situation.
- If you have a restraining order, keep a certified copy of it with you at all times, and inform friends, neighbors and employers that you have a restraining order in effect.
- Call law enforcement to enforce the order and give copies of the restraining order to employers, neighbors and schools along with a picture of the offender.
- Consider renting a post office box or using the address of a friend for your mail (be aware that addresses are on restraining orders and police reports, and be careful to whom you give your address and phone number).
- Reschedule appointments that the abusive partner is aware of.
- Use different stores and frequent different social spots.
- Alert neighbors and request that they call the police if they feel you may be in danger.
- Tell people you work with about the situation and have your calls screened by one receptionist if possible.
- Tell people who take care of your children or drive them/pick them up from school and activities. Explain your situation to them and provide them with a copy of the restraining order.
Ready to Create a Safety Plan?
Here is a form you can fill out to create a safety plan.