Basics of safety planning:
Safety planning is very important. This guide is intended to help individuals whether you are staying, leaving or have already left an abusive relationship.
Know the abuser and his/her patterns of behavior
• What are the abuser’s tactics?
• What are his/her triggers for escalation?
• If s/he escalates, what might that look like? What do you anticipate might be the next level of violence?
Know where to go to seek safety and assistance
• If you are in your home: Plan ways to leave the building and identify secure places inside where you can safely wait for help. Plan for access to a phone. (If you need a phone for emergencies, contact your local Domestic Violence agency.) If you have nearby friends or neighbors plan for ways to alert them to your danger so they can call for help.
• Make a plan for where you will go if you must leave to be safe.
• If you are in a public place (e.g., store, mall, restaurant, theater): Get help from a manager; go to a security officer; ask for the police to be called; draw attention to yourself and to the abuser.
• If you are driving: Know where to find the nearest police department, fire department or hospital emergency room. It is helpful to map out where these locations are for your everyday commutes to work, school, home, daycare etc. All of these places are likely to have 24-hour staffing and professionals who are trained to respond quickly in a crisis. If there is not one of these locations nearby, find the nearest public place and ask for help contacting the police.
• Know who you can go to for help and how make contact. Agree on code words that will let the person know you are in trouble but can’t speak freely.
Know what you need to have with you if you leave
• If you must leave in a hurry: bank/credit cards, cash, important phone numbers, car keys
• Important documents (self and children): id’s, birth certificates, social security cards, passports, immigration/naturalization papers, green cards and work permits, school and medical records, driver’s license and registration, lease/rental agreements, divorce papers, mortgage records, insurance papers
Know how to keep abuser away
• Safeguard information about where you are
• Change locks on formerly shared living space
• Consider obtaining a protection order (discuss with advocate to assess pros and cons)
• Alert workplace security, school administrators as appropriate
Know what tools/resources are available
• Police assistance
• Protective orders
• Safe shelters
• Assistance with basic needs
Remember: your safety needs may not match this list. Consider talking to a Domestic Violence Advocate to get help in assessing your specific situation.