All individuals seeking help for family violence issues should have a safety plan in place. With the assistance of an advocate, reviewing a plan such as this is very helpful in ensuring a safer response to a potentially volatile situation. Thinking about potential scenarios ahead of time and brainstorming with an experienced advocate helps a victim replace panic with action that could contribute to survival for the victim and her/ his children.
Safety Planning with Battered Women: Complex Lives/Difficult Choices (SAGE Series on Violence against Women)
Safety During An Explosive Incident
- If an argument seems unavoidable, try to have it in a room or area that has access to an exit and not in a bathroom, kitchen, or anywhere near weapons.
- Practice how to get out of your home safely. Identify which doors, windows, or stairwell would be best.
- Have an extra set of keys and a packed bag ready; keep them in an undisclosed but accessible place in order to leave quickly.
- Identify a neighbor you can tell about the violence and ask that they call the police if they hear a disturbance coming from your home.
- Devise a code word to use with your children, family, friends, and neighbors when you need the police.
- Decide and plan for where you will go if you have to leave home (even if you don't think you will need to).
- Use your instincts and judgment. If the situation is very dangerous, consider giving the abuser what he wants to calm him down. You have the right to protect yourself until you are out of danger.
- Always remember:YOU DON'T DESERVE TO BE HIT OR THREATENED!
Safety When Preparing To Leave
- Open a checking and/or savings account in your own name to begin to establish or increase your independence. Rent a post office box to receive any mail which may not be safe to receive at home. Think of other ways in which you can increase your independence.
- Leave money, an extra set of keys, copies of important documents and extra clothes with someone you trust so you can leave quickly.
- Determine who would be able to let you stay with them or lend you some money.
- Review your safety plan as often as possible in order to plan the safest way to leave your batterer. REMEMBER, LEAVING IS THE MOST DANGEROUS TIME.
Safety In Your Own Home
- Change the locks on your doors as soon as possible. Buy additional locks and safety devices to secure your windows.
- Discuss a safety plan with your children for when you are not with them.
- Inform your children's school, day care, etc., about who has permission to pick up your children.
- Inform neighbor and landlord that your partner no longer lives with you and that they should call the police if they see him near your home.
Safety With A Protection Order
- Keep your protection order on you at all times. (When you change your purse, that should be the first thing that goes in it.)
- Call the police if your partner breaks the protection order in any way.
- Think of alternative ways to keep safe if the police do not respond right way.
- Inform family, friends, neighbors, and teachers, that you have a protection order in effect. Tell them any relevant details of the order (who has custody, when and where does visitation take place, etc.).
Safety On The Job And In Public
- Decide who at work you will inform of your situation. This should include office or building security (provide a picture of your batterer if possible).
- Arrange to have someone screen your telephone calls if possible.
- Devise a safety plan for when you leave work. Have someone escort you to your car. Use a variety of routes to go home by if possible. Know where your police station is and drive to it if necessary.
Your Safety And Emotional Health
- If you are thinking of returning to a potentially abusive situation, discuss an alternative plan with someone you trust.
- If you have to communicate with your partner, determine the safest way to do so.
- Have positive thoughts about yourself and be assertive with others about your needs.
- Read books, articles, and poems to help you feel stronger. Keep a journal.
- Decide who you can call to talk freely and openly to give you the support you need.
- Plan to attend support groups to gain support from others and learn more about yourself and the relationship.
Checklist - What You Need To Take When You Leave
- Driver's license and registration
- Children's birth certificates
- Your birth certificate
- Lease, rental agreement, deed
- Bank books
- Credit cards
- Insurance papers
- Keys - house/car/office
- Medical Records
- Social security card
- Welfare identification
- School records
- Divorce papers
- Address book
- Small saleable objects
- Children's small toys
- Work permits
- Green card
- Personal treasures