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Safety Planning
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Lindsay G. Cassada 

Gloria Browder-Parham

804-717-2492 (FAX)

If you are in danger or need immediate assistance, dial 911 

Monday - Friday
8 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.

Mailing Address
Chesterfield Domestic & Sexual Violence Resource Center
PO Box 741
Chesterfield, VA 23832-0040

Street Address
10111 Krause Road, Suite 210
Chesterfield, VA 23832


Courthouse Address
Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court
7000 Lucy Corr Boulevard
Chesterfield, VA 23832 


Domestic and Sexual Violence Resource Center
Safety Planning

A safety plan is a personalized, practical plan. It includes

  • ways to remain safe
    • while in an abusive or unhealthy relationship
    • when planning to leave
    • after you leave
  • different scenarios tailored to an individual’s unique situation

It’s important to remember that in moments of crisis, the brain doesn’t function the same as it does during calm times. Advance preparation of a safety plan can increase an individual’s welfare during high-risk encounters.

Create a personalized safety plan. 

Safety During an Explosive Incident

  • Remain in an area that has access to exits, if the argument is unavoidable
  • Make yourself a small target, protecting arms and face, if violence is unavoidable
  • Don’t run to the children’s location, as they can also be hurt

Safety While Living with an Abusive Partner

  • All computer and online activity can be monitored – consider a public library or friend
  • Practice leaving the home safely, including children in the practice
  • Keep a packed bag at a friend or family member’s home
  • Plan what you will do if your children tell your partner about the plan
  • Tell trustworthy neighbors about the violence, asking them to call the police if they see or hear a disturbance
  • Determine a code word to use with your children, family, friends, trustworthy neighbors, when you need police  
  • Keep a phone accessible always, if possible
  • Make a habit of backing the car into the driveway, and keeping it fueled
  • Create several plausible reasons for leaving the house at different times, in advance  
  • Include pets in your plan, if possible
  • Put pet registration/licensure, in your name, if your locality requires

Safety on the Job and in Public

  • Determine a safe, trusted person at work, to notify of your situation
  • Provide a photo of the abuser, for easy recognition and identification
  • Practice safely leaving work or frequently visited places
  • Use a variety of routes to frequently visited places
  • Create a safety routine for when you arrive home

Safety Planning with Children

  • Teach children when and how to call 911
  • Instruct them to leave the home, and where to go, when things escalate
  • Teach children to never intervene in a violent situation or heated argument
  • Instruct children, during an incident, to remain out of the bathroom, kitchen and other areas that have items that could be used as weapons
  • Remind your children they are not responsible for what is happening, and it is not their fault
  • Remind them you love them, and support them no matter what
  • Explain you want to protect them, and you want everyone to be safe, so you have developed a plan in case of emergencies  
    • When safety planning with a child, it’s possible they will tell this information to the abusive person, creating a more dangerous situation
    • When discussing a safety plan, use phrases like “We’re practicing what to do in an emergency” instead of “We’re planning what to do when Dad/Mom becomes violent”

Safety Planning when Preparing to Leave

  • Establish independence by opening financial accounts in your name only
  • Leave money, extra keys, copies of important documents, extra medicine and personal necessities with a trusted person
  • Determine safe people you can stay with, or borrow money from
  • Consider staying with someone your abuser may not know
  • Review and rehearse your safety plan multiple times, considering what could go wrong

Important Items to Take When Leaving

  • Identification
    • Driver’s license/ID card
    • Social Security card
    • Birth certificate
    • Disability documentation
    • Children’s birth certificates
  • Legal Papers
    • Protective order
    • Lease, rental agreement, house deed
    • Car registration, car title
    • Health and life insurance cards
    • Custody and/or divorce documents
  • Financial
    • Cash is always best
    • Debit/Credit cards
    • Checkbooks
  • Other
    • Cell phone
    • House and car keys
    • Medications
    • Valuables (photos, jewelry, etc.)
    • Clothes and hygiene necessities
    • Small toys/comfort items for children, blanket, clothing
    • Medical records for self and children
Related Content

About Domestic Violence

About the Commonwealth's Attorney Office

About the Domestic and Sexual Violence Resource Center

Abusers and Can They Change