Safety Planning for Survivors

About Safety Planning . . .

A safety plan can help you stay safer even when you think you won't leave and even if your abuser doesn't live with you. If you are concerned about your safety, develop a safety plan. Do it for yourself. Do it for the safer life that you and your children deserve.

A safety plan is a tool to help you think about what you can do to protect yourself from abuse. This information can get you started. To speak to someone about a personal plan that suits your situation, call your local domestic violence program.

The information here comes from the collective experience of domestic violence shelters, police, prosecutors, and other battered women. A safety plan is a tool that has worked for others, and it can help you think about ways in which you can stay safer. After you’ve reviewed this information, you may want more help. Confidential, free service is available to you when you call a domestic violence program.

Things I can do before a violent incident . . .

  • Identify a neighbor I can tell about the violence and ask them to call the police if they hear a disturbance at my house.
  • Devise a code word or signal to use with family, friends, or neighbors when I need them to call the police.
  • Open my own savings account to increase my independence.
  • Leave money, an extra set of keys, copies of important documents, and extra clothes with someone I trust.
  • Decide where I’ll go if I leave my home, even if right now I don’t think it will come to that.
  • Identify a domestic-violence shelter to call. Find out if a friend or relative will let me stay with them or lend me money.
  • Keep the shelter hotline close at hand and keep change or a calling card on me at all times.
  • Identify which door, window, stairwell, or elevator
    offers the quickest way out of my home, and practice my escape route.
  • Teach my children to dial 911
  • Pack a bag and have it ready to go in case I must leave home. Keep the bag in a private but accessible place where I can grab it quickly. I’ll need to take the following items:
    • Money — cash, my checkbook, credit cards, ATM cards, etc.
    • Identification — driver’s license and registration, Social Security card, passport, green card, public assistance ID, work permit, etc.
    • Important papers — such as divorce papers; school and vaccination records; and birth certificates for me and my children
    • Clothing
    • Keys — house, car, or work
    • Medications
  • If I already have an order of protection, I need to keep it with me at all times.
  • Review my safety plan as often as possible.


Things I can do during a violent incident...

  • If an argument starts, stay close to a room or area with easy access to an exit. Stay away from the bathroom, kitchen, or anywhere near weapons.
  • Get away. Try to get my packed bag on the way out, but if it’s too dangerous, just leave. Go to a relative, friend, or shelter.
  • Call 911 or my local police. The police must try to protect you from future abuse. They are required to provide or arrange transportation to a hospital or other safe place for you. The police should also arrest the abuser if they have enough evidence of a crime. They must give you a paper which explains your rights and lists a social service agency that can help.
  • Use my judgement and intuition. If the situation is very dangerous, I can give the abuser what he wants to calm him down. I have to protect myself and the kids until we are out of danger.

 

Things I can do after a violent incident . . .

Get medical attention immediately. Ask the clinic to take pictures of my injuries.

  • Make a police report, even if I don’t want the abuser arrested. The report will become evidence of past abuse which might prove helpful to me in the future. The abuser will not be notified that you made the report . . . Make the report as soon as possible after the abuse.
  • Save evidence, in case I decide to take legal action now or later. Evidence includes medical records and police reports, dated photos of my injuries or the house in disarray, torn clothing, any weapons used, and statements from anyone who saw the attack.
  • Go to court to get an order of protection from domestic abuse. I can call the local domestic violence program to learn more about this option and to get help with court action.
  • Seek out people who want to help me. Decide who I can talk openly with to receive the support I need. Plan to attend a victim’s support group for at least 2 weeks to learn more about myself and the relationship.
  • During an emergency, call 911 or local police.
  • I can increase my safety and prepare in advance for the possibility of further violence. I have choices about how to best get myself and my children to safety.