Safety Planning

safety planning for domestic violence

Are you in an abusive relationship? Maybe someone you love is a victim of domestic violence? Safety planning is an important step in ensuring you or your loved one stays safe and alive. 

If you are in immediate danger, call 911.

If you need advice or help, you can reach a caring, knowledgable person 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at (800) 799-SAFE.

Safety Planning 101

Whether you plan to stay in an abusive relationship or plan to leave, safety planning can help you stay safe and alive. It can also improve your situation if you have to flee quickly.

Following these suggestions is not a guarantee of safety, but it can help prepare you for whatever may happen. 

12 Steps to Putting Safety Planning in Place

For your ultimate safety, please understand that safety planning is most effective when you confide in at least one person.

1. Pack a bag (bags) for yourself (and your children, if you have them)

Leave your bag (bags) at a trusted person’s house in case you need to flee in a hurry.

Your bag(s) should include:

  • The basics, such as clothes and toiletries
  • Important documents, such as copies of your driver’s license, birth certificates, social security cards, immunization records, school records, and health insurance cards. You should also include bank and credit card information
  • Medications
  • Cash, keys to the house and a car, and any valuables or keepsakes you have

If you have no one to confide in, consider packing the bag (s) and hiding it (them) somewhere you have access to.

2. Pick a code word and share it with your friend

If your friend ever hears you say your code word, they will know to call 911 for you.

3. Have a safe place your children can go if there is danger

The safe place could be a neighbor’s house or hiding place in the house. Practice going to the safe place with them.

4. Teach your children how to call 911

Explain to your children reasons they may need to call 911 and teach them how to do it and what to say.

Make sure they know to never try to interfere or stop your abuser from attacking you, as he may turn on them. Stress to them their job is to stay safe, not protect you.

Have a code word that tells your children to go to their safe place and call 911.

5. Never allow yourself to be backed into a room without an exit

Do not allow your abuser to put you somewhere without an exit, such as a bathroom. Also, avoid rooms with weapons, such as a kitchen, when your abuser is angry.

6. Have an escape plan ready

Know where the possibilities are, such as windows, doors, emergency exits, and stairwells.

7. If violence is imminent, make yourself as small a target as possible

Give your abuser less chance of hurting you seriously. Curl up into a ball with your face down and arms wrapped around your head. A corner is the best place to do this.

8. Always have your car ready

Keep your car ready to flee by always backing it into the driveway or garage and keeping it fully fueled. This allows for a quick escape.

Also, hide an extra set of car keys in case he takes yours.

9. Begin saving money

It’s a great idea to open a bank account in your own name that he knows nothing about. You may want to consider enlisting some help in funding this account. 

10. Keep Computer use in mind

Understand that he can monitor your computer activity. If he is tech-savvy, he can find things, even if you have deleted them. Be careful about what you do online. Again, if you are afraid or concerned, contact someone from a safe place.

If you are afraid to use your computer, please use a safe computer to contact someone. This could be the library, a friend’s house, or work. Or, you can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1−800−799−SAFE (7233) or TTY 1−800−787−3224.

11. Have a safe, public place in mind

If you need to leave in a hurry, you want to go somewhere that is open. It’s best if the place is open 24 hours, such as a police station, a store (many Wal-Marts are open 24 hours) or a restaurant, such as Denny’s or Whataburger.

12. Keep evidence of abuse

Most abuse victims lie about bruises, days missed at work, and canceled events. If you can’t tell someone else the truth about what is going on, keep a journal. Write as much as you can. Include written records of dates, events, and threats.

It is also extremely helpful to keep pictures and videos when possible. If he injures you, breaks things, threatens you or the children, or gets out of control with his anger, it is imperative to record as much as possible without putting yourself in danger.  

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