Safety planning is just what it sounds like: creating a plan to keep yourself and any children and/or pets safe while living in an environment of domestic violence and abuse, preparing to leave, leaving, and after leaving an abuser.
A survivor’s safety and well-being is most at risk during episodes of violence and when attempting to leave an abuser, so it’s especially important to prepare ahead of time to be as protected as possible.
Some basic safety planning tips are listed below – but we hope you will consider calling our 24 hour helpline for help with safety planning 888-774-2900 or 860-225-6357 or reviewing these plans with a trusted person.
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.
- Put aside emergency money.
- Practice how to get out of your home safely. Identify which doors, windows or stairwell would work best.
- Decide and plan for where you will go if you have to leave home (even if you don’t think you will need to leave).
- Memorize the Helpline number: 888-774-2900. If you are in danger, call 911.
- 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.
- Have an extra set of keys, along with a packed bag, ready to go in a safe, but accessible location.
- Review and revise your safety plan on a regular basis.
If you have a restraining or protective order:
- Give a copy to your boss and/or a trusted co-worker.
- Ask your boss and co-workers to call the police if they see your abuser at your workplace.
- Carry a copy of your restraining or protective order with you at all times.
- If your children are included on the order, give the school or daycare provider a copy.
Identify a trusted neighbor you can tell about the violence:
- Ask a neighbor to call the police if they hear a disturbance coming from your home.
- Devise a visual signal or code word and a plan with your neighbor so they know when you need help.
If You Have Children
- Teach them how to dial 911. Ensure them that they can trust the police.
- Help them identify a safe place to hide (inside and outside of the home).
- Reassure them that the violence is not their fault and that you want to be sure they stay safe.
- Give them a list of important phone numbers to keep with them, such as numbers of relatives or trusted neighbors.
- 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.
Prepare for an Emergency
- 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.
- 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. If your life is in danger, call 911.
- Keep an emergency bag in a safe, accessible location.
Items to consider keeping in your emergency bag
- Driver’s license
- Birth certificates (yours, your children’s)
- Citizenship documents (passport, green card, etc.)
- Copies of your restraining or protective order and custody orders
- Insurance documents
- Credit cards or a list of credit cards you jointly hold or hold yourself
- Pay stubs
- Information about bank accounts and other assets
- List of phone numbers of friends, relatives, doctors, schools, etc.
- Regularly needed medication
- Extra set of house or car keys