Here are some tips to keep in mind when planning for your safety. These lists are not comprehensive, and each situation is unique. You are encouraged to call our Crisis Line to speak with an Advocate who can help you further develop a safety plan.
Safety During An Explosive Incident
- If an argument seems unavoidable, try to have it in a room or area where you have access to an exit. Try to stay away from places where weapons might be available.
- Practice how to get out of your home safely. Identify whether doors, windows, elevator or stairwell would be best.
- Have a packed bag ready and keep it at a relative’s or friend’s home in order to leave quickly.
- Identify one or more neighbors 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 help.
- 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 own instincts and judgment. If the situation is very dangerous, do whatever you think you need to do to stay safe.
- Always remember: YOU DON'T DESERVE TO BE HIT OR THREATENED!
Safety When Preparing To Leave
- Open a savings account and/or credit card in your own name to start to establish your independence. Think of other ways in which you can increase your independence.
- Get your own post office box. You can privately receive checks and letters to begin your independence.
- Leave money, an extra set of keys, copies of important documents, extra medicine and clothes with someone you trust so you can leave quickly.
- Determine who would be able to let you stay with them or loan you some money.
- Keep our Crisis Line or other hotline phone number close at hand at all times for emergency phone calls.
- REMEMBER: LEAVING YOUR ABUSER IS THE MOST DANGEROUS TIME. Review your safety plan as often as possible in order to plan the safest way to leave.
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 times when you are not with them.
- Inform neighbors and your landlord that your partner no longer lives with you and that they should call the police if they see your partner near your home.
Safety With A Protective Order
- Keep your protective order on you at all times. When you change your wallet or bag, that should be the first thing that goes in it. Give a copy to a trusted friend, neighbor or family member.
- Call the police if your partner breaks the protective order.
- Think of alternative ways to keep safe if the police do not respond right away.
- Inform family, friends, neighbors and your physician or health care provider that you have a protective order in effect.
Safety On The Job And In The Public
- Decide who at work you will inform of your situation. This should include office or building security. Provide a picture of your abuser if possible.
- Inform your children's school or day-care about who has permission to pick up your children.
- Arrange to have an answering machine, caller ID or a trusted friend or relative screen your calls if possible.
- Devise a safety plan for when you leave work. Have someone escort you to your car, bus or train and walk with you until you are safely on your way.
- If possible, use a variety of routes to go home. Think about what you would do if something happened while going home (i.e. in your car or on the bus).
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.
- Decide who you can call to talk to freely and openly, and who will give you the support you need.
- Plan to attend a survivors’ support group to gain help and insight from others and learn more about yourself and the relationship.
For Teens In A Violent Dating Relationship
- Decide which friend, teacher, relative or police officer you can tell.
- Call our Crisis Line or another domestic violence hotline. They can help teens too.
- Get information about restraining orders from your local police or court or from Project Safeguard.
- Ask a domestic violence hotline about a teen relationship support group. It might help you feel less alone as you learn about yourself and your relationship.
What to take when you leave.
- Driver's license
- Children's birth certificates
- Your birth certificate
- Social Security card
- Welfare identification
- Money and/or credit cards
- Bank books
- Your restraining/protective order
- Lease, rental agreement, house deed
- Car registration and insurance papers
- Medical records for you and your children
- School records
- Work permits/green cards/visa
- Divorce papers
- Custody papers
- House and car keys
- Small, sellable objects
- Address book
- Pictures of you, your children, your abuser
- Children's small toys
- Change of clothes for you and your children