Safety Planning

Whether you are planning to leave an abusive partner or remain in the relationship, it is very important to develop a safety plan to protect yourself from your abuser. Once physical, emotional, or sexual violence has occurred in a relationship, it is likely to happen again. Planning ahead to protect yourself and your children is critical.

An effective safety plan adapts to your changing circumstances. It is important to adjust your plans to fit your situation as it changes over time. Below are some basic things to consider in planning for your safety. Consider contacting a domestic violence agency for expert help with your planning.

Planning Ahead

  • Recognize the signs of abuse.
  • Develop and practice a plan with your children. Teach them how to call 9-1-1.
  • Arrange to have a safe place to go where the abuser can't find you.
  • Talk to an advocate at a domestic violence agency.
  • Make copies of important papers and hide them. You may need things such as your identification, birth certificates, financial and insurance information, social security cards, immigration papers, or any court orders.
  • Have key phone numbers available.
  • Pack and hide essential items in an overnight bag for you and your children (e.g. clothes, papers, medications). Make sure you can get to it in a hurry.
  • Put aside money and spare keys.
  • Consider getting a Domestic Violence Order for Protection.
  • If the abuser has access to your computer, use a safer computer that can't be monitored by the abuser (e.g. at a public library or a community center). (See Internet Safety)
  • Consider setting up your own accounts for e-mail, cell phone, finances, etc., so that the abuser cannot monitor or track you through these accounts.

During an Incident

  • Call for help (9-1-1)! When calling from a cell phone, state your location first.
  • Get out if you can.
  • Avoid the kitchen, bathroom, garage, or other potentially dangerous rooms.
  • Avoid rooms with only one exit.

If Your Abuser Has Left

  • Change locks, secure doors and windows, change passwords and pin numbers on accounts.
  • Avoid being alone - arrange to have someone else stay with you.
  • Change your phone number.
  • Tell trusted friends, family, and neighbors what is going on.

Safety at the Workplace, School and Public Places

  • Inform your work, daycare, school, trusted family, friends, and neighbors. Give them copies of Protection or No Contact Orders.
  • Establish a code word or sign so that friends, family, teachers, or co-workers know when to call for help.
  • Change your daily routine.
  • Plan ahead for unexpected contact with the abuser.

If You Have Left

  • Leaving can be a dangerous time. Contact a domestic violence agency and develop your safety plan with an advocate.
  • Consider keeping your new location and information confidential and unlisted. Avoid contact with people who might give your information to the abuser.
  • Consider locations where the abuser could find you and avoid them.
  • Plan ahead for unexpected contact with the abuser.