A safety plan is a personalized, practical plan. It includes
- Different scenarios tailored to an individual’s unique situation
- Ways to remain safe:
- While in an abusive or unhealthy relationship
- When planning to leave
- After you leave
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. See how to create a personalized safety plan (PDF).
- Explosive Incidents
- Living with an Abusive Partner
- On the Job & In Public
- Preparing to Leave
Do the following to help yourself remain safe 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.
Living with an Abusive Partner
Remember the following to help stay safe 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.
On the Job & In Public
Remember the following to help stay safe 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.
Do the following to help plan for unsafe situations involving 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”.
Preparing to Leave
Remember the following when you're 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
- Cash Is Always Best
- Debit/Credit Cards
- Birth Certificate
- Children’s Birth Certificates
- Disability Documentation
- Driver’s License/Id Card
- Social Security Card
- Legal Papers
- Car Registration, Car Title
- Custody and/or Divorce Documents
- Health and Life Insurance Cards
- Lease, Rental Agreement, House Deed
- Protective Order
- Cell Phone
- Clothes and Hygiene Necessities
- House and Car Keys
- Medical Records for Self and Children
- Small Toys/Comfort Items for Children, Blanket, Clothing
- Valuables (Photos, Jewelry, etc.)