A safety plan is a personalized, practical plan that includes ways to remain safe while in a relationship, planning to leave, or after you leave. Safety planning involves how to cope with emotions, tell friends and family about the abuse, take legal action and more.
A good safety plan will have all of the vital information you need and be tailored to your unique situation, and will help walk you through different scenarios.
Although some of the things that you outline in your safety plan may seem obvious, it’s important to remember that in moments of crisis your brain doesn’t function the same way as when you are calm. When adrenaline is pumping through your veins it can be hard to think clearly or make logical decisions about your safety. Having a safety plan laid out in advance can help you to protect yourself in those stressful moments.
Types of Safety Planning
Safety While Living With An Abusive Partner
Identify your partner’s use and level of force so that you can assess the risk of physical danger to you and your children before it occurs.
Identify safe areas of the house where there are no weapons and there are ways to escape. If arguments occur, try to move to those areas.
Don’t run to where the children are, as your partner may hurt them as well.
If violence is unavoidable, make yourself a small target. Dive into a corner and curl up into a ball with your face protected and arms around each side of your head, fingers entwined.
If possible, have a phone accessible at all times and know what numbers to call for help. Know where the nearest public phone is located. Know the phone number to your local shelter. If your life is in danger, call the police.
Let trusted friends and neighbors know of your situation and develop a plan and visual signal for when you need help.
Teach your children how to get help. Instruct them not to get involved in the violence between you and your partner. Plan a code word to signal to them that they should get help or leave the house.
Tell your children that violence is never right, even when someone they love is being violent. Tell them that neither you, nor they, are at fault or are the cause of the violence, and that when anyone is being violent, it is important to stay safe.
Practice how to get out safely. Practice with your children.
Plan for what you will do if your children tells your partner of your plan or if your partner otherwise finds out about your plan.
Keep weapons like guns and knives locked away and as inaccessible as possible.
Make a habit of backing the car into the driveway and keeping it fueled. Keep the driver’s door unlocked and others locked — for a quick escape.
Try not to wear scarves or long jewelry that could be used to strangle you.
Create several plausible reasons for leaving the house at different times of the day or night.
Make a plan for how you are going to leave, including where you're going to go, and how to cover your tracks. Make one plan for if you have time to prepare to leave the home. Make another plan for if you have to leave the home in a hurry. Don’t keep any of this information where the abuser can find it!
If you can, keep any evidence of the physical abuse and take it with you when you leave. Make sure to keep this evidence in a safe place that the abuser will not find – this may mean that you have to keep it in a locked drawer at work or with a trusted family member or there are so "Hidden Diversion Safes" that you can purchase click on SHOP . If the abuser finds your info/pictures, you could be in more danger.
Such evidence of physical abuse might include:
Pictures you have of bruises or other injuries. If possible, try to have these pictures dated;
Torn or bloody clothing;
Household objects that the abuser damaged or broke during a violent episode;
Pictures that show your home destroyed or messed up after violence happened;
Any records you have from doctors or the police that document the abuse;
Whenever you are hurt, go to a doctor or to an emergency room as soon as possible if you can. Tell them what happened. Ask them to make a record of your visit and of what happened to you. Be sure to get a copy of the record.
A journal that you may have kept with details about the abuse, which could help prove the abuse in court. KEEP IT HIDDEN
Anything else you think could help show that you've been abused.
If you have evidence of other types of abuse (threatening voicemails, text messages, emails, etc.), bring copies of those with you as well.
Get a bag together that you can easily grab when you leave. Some things to include in the bag are:
A prepaid cell phone with an activation card, that no one knows about!
Spare car keys; Your driver's license, SS Card, or Green Card
A list of your credit cards so that you can track any activity on them;
Your checkbook; Money;
Phone numbers for friends, relatives, doctors, schools, taxi services, and your local domestic violence organization; Don’t rely on your memory or the phone you have been using for Numbers (In a crisis situation, it is so easy to forget!)
A change of clothing for you and your children; Diapers (If you have a baby)
Any medication that you or your children usually take;
Copies or Originals if possible of your children's birth certificates, Social Security cards, school records and immunizations;
Copies of legal documents for you and the abuser, such as Social Security cards, passports, green cards, medical records, insurance information, birth certificates, marriage license, wills, welfare identification information and copies of any court orders (such as your protection order or custody order);
Copies of financial documents for you and the abuser, such as pay stubs, bank account information, a list of credit cards you hold by yourself or together with the abuser;
Any evidence you've been collecting to show that you've been abused; and
A few things you want to keep, like photographs, jewelry or other personal items. Hide this bag somewhere the abuser will not find it (Like the trunk of your car under where the spare tire goes.) OR the Diversion safes that are recommended - click on SHOP. Try to keep it at the home of a trusted friend or neighbor. Avoid using next-door neighbors, close family members, or mutual friends, as the abuser might be more likely to find it there. If you're in an emergency and need to get out right away, don't worry about gathering these things. While they're helpful to have, getting out safely should ALWAYS come first.
Hide an extra set of car keys in a place you can get to easily in case the abuser takes the car keys to prevent you from leaving.
You may be eligable for a FREE secret phone to HIDE and keep for Emergencies only. You will need to click HERE to apply and IF THEY ARE AVAILABLE, We can send one out to you.
Try to set money aside. If the abuser controls the household money, this might mean that you can only save a few dollars per week; the most important thing is that you save whatever amount you can that will not tip off the abuser and put you in further danger. You can ask trusted friends or family members to hold money for you so that the abuser cannot find it and/or use it.
Getting a protective order can be an important part of a safety plan when preparing to leave. Even if you get a protective order, you should still take other safety planning steps to keep yourself and your children safe. A legal protective order is not always enough to keep you safe. Locate your local Police Department about Restraining Orders section to find out more information about getting a protective order.
Leave when the abuser will least expect it. This will give you more time to get away before the abuser realizes that you are gone.
If you have time to call the police before leaving, you can ask the police to escort you out of the house as you leave. You can also ask them to be "on call" while you're leaving, in case you need help. Not all police precincts will help you in these ways but you may want to ask your local police station if they will.
LEAVING WITH CHILDREN THAT ARE BIOLOGICAL TO THE ABUSER
It is generally best to talk to a lawyer who specializes in domestic violence and custody issues beforehand to make sure that you are not in danger of violating any court custody order you may have or any criminal parental kidnapping laws. This is especially true if you want to leave the state with the children.
If you are considering leaving without your children, please talk to a lawyer who specializes in custody before doing this. Leaving your children with an abuser may negatively affect your chances of getting custody of them in court later on.
ALWAYS, ALWAYS CALL 911, THEY CAN GET THERE QUICKLY AND HELP YOU SORT THINGS OUT SAFELY AND MAKE SURE THAT IF YOU ARE THE ONE LEAVING, THAT YOU GET ALL OF YOUR BELONGINGS AND GET OUT SAFELY OR MAKE SURE THAT THE ABUSER GETS ONLY THEIR BELONGINGS AND LEAVES PEACEFULLY - OR THEY CAN GO TO JAIL!
DO NOT EVER THINK YOU CAN JUST TALK IT OUT WITH THE ABUSER. IF THEY THINK THAT THERE IS NOTHING TO LOSE, THEN THEY COULD POSSIBLY DO ANYTHING, YOUR SAFETY AND THE SAFETY OF YOUR CHILDREN COME FIRST! IF YOU DONT HAVE A PHONE OR IF IT IS DESTROYED OR TAKEN FROM YOU, THEN LEAVE AND RUN TO A NEIGHBORS HOUSE AND CALL 911 OR HAVE THEM CALL 911. GET AWAY!!!!!