August 22-26 is designated as National Safe at Home Week. With 1.2 million people hurt at home each year, this week was created to promote and emphasize safety around the home. An important part of safety is preparing ahead of time on how to be safe. For example, you should always have a plan for fire evacuation, natural disasters, common house hold accidents, etc.
But with more than 1.3 million women alone being victims of domestic violence, and with a majority of this violence happening in their own homes, it is very important for anyone involved in an abusive relationship to also have a safety plan on how to protect themselves and their children from domestic violence.
What is a Safety Plan?
A safety plan is a comprehensive plan for protecting you and your children from domestic violence and/or to help you safely escape from the violence and your abuser.
It is vital for anyone living in an abusive relationship or a situation where they fear for their lives, to have a plan of action. But remember, if you are in immediate danger, always call 911.
Each person’s safety plan will vary based upon their individual circumstances. Furthermore, it is very important that one’s safety plan be updated each time your situation changes. General ideas for increasing safety and preparing in advance for the possibility of violence that should be included in one’s safety plan are:
- Practice how to get out safely. Ask yourself what doors, windows, stairwells, elevators or fire escapes can be used?
- Stay away from rooms with weapons and sharp edges, like bathrooms and kitchens or rooms where a gun is stored.
- Teach and practice with your children how to contact 911 and make sure they know their full names and important information and where they can go to be safe.
- Make sure you have access to a phone besides your cell phone, keep change on you to use payphones (calls on your cell phone can be tracked by getting access to your monthly billing statement.)
- Ensure that exits are not blocked.
- Keep car keys easily accessible or hide a set somewhere outside of your house, somewhere only you would know.
- Pack a bag with important things you’d need if you had to leave quickly. Give it to a friend or relative you trust, or hide it in a safe place.
- Work out a code word with children and others so they know when you need help.
- Know your resources, and have an idea of the services available to you.
- Write out your plan, this may help give you a piece of mind and a sense of regaining control of your life.
- Remember to always hide your plan in a safe place where the abuser is unlikely to find it.
Though you may not have control over your partner’s violence, you do have a choice about how to respond to situations and how to best get yourself and children to safety.
Need help forming a safety plan ? Reach out to a Hubbard House advocate through our 24-hour domestic violence hotline at (904) 354-3114 or (800) 500-1119 to receive counseling and safety planning assistance over the phone.
Need more resources? For more safety tips and ideas, visit any of these sites:
- Hubbard House
- Personalized Safety Plan
- Domestic Violence Safety Plan
- American Bar Assoc. Safety Tips
If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship please call the Hubbard House 24-Hour Domestic Violence Hotline at (904) 354-3114 or (800) 500-1119. Hubbard House can help.
ABOUT HUBBARD HOUSE
Founded as the first domestic violence shelter inFloridain 1976, Hubbard House is a certified, comprehensive domestic violence center providing programs and services to more than 6,000 women, children, and men annually in Duval and Baker counties. While Hubbard House is most known for its emergency shelter, the agency also provides extensive adult and youth outreach services, school-based education, therapeutic childcare, batterers’ intervention programs, court advocacy and volunteer and community education opportunities. Visit www.hubbardhouse.org to learn more.
By: Vanna Tauch