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Safety Planning

Your safety is our priority — and a safety plan for you, your dependents and any furry family members could be life-saving.

The most important thing for victims of domestic violence is safety. If you are in an abusive situation, we encourage you to develop a safety plan.

A safety plan is a comprehensive plan for protecting yourself and your children from domestic violence while in the relationship, leaving, or after you have left.

While safety planning is best done with the support of a trained advocate, there are some things you can consider until you’re ready to reach out.

A Safety Plan Is

  • An assessment of how to meet your basic needs
  • Guidance on how to promote your safety
  • Based on your individual needs
  • Always evolving, as your situation changes
  • Important for each member of your family, including each child

A Safety Plan Is Not

  • Something that can be assembled without the survivor’s support
  • Based only on emergency situation
  • A strict checklist that must be followed
  • Guidance that works for all people at all times

While assembling a safety plan can be a life-saving form of support, trust your judgment. If you feel unsafe, consider taking action, even if you don’t have a safety plan in place.

Safety plans do not have to be written. If you choose to write your safety plan, please store it somewhere your abuser will not find it. Here are some templates to help you start putting your safety plan together.

Safety Plan Tips

As you start to safety plan, there are some general considerations.

If you are able to pack a bag when you are planning to leave, put it somewhere secure. Items to consider packing include:

  • Driver’s license
  • Birth certificate (for each person in the family)
  • Social Security card (for each person in the family)
  • Cash, credit/debit cards, and checks
  • Financial documents, including records of mortgage payments, lease, car title, rental agreement, bank records, etc.
  • Marriage license, divorce papers, custody agreement and restraining order
  • Medical records, proof of insurance, and medication/mobility aids/medical supports.
  • Prepaid phone
  • Proof of benefits, like SNAP
  • Keys (house, car, office, friend’s home)
  • Work permit, green card, passport, visa, or other immigration related documents (if applicable)
  • Sentimental items, including photos or heirlooms
  • Comfort items for children, like a stuffed animal

Prepare Ahead

Prepare ahead of an explosive incident. When you are experiencing violence, it’s a difficult time to think clearly, so planning and practicing your safety plan will help you respond in these moments.

This should not be a bathroom, kitchen, or near any hard surfaces, weapons, or items that could be used as weapons.

Consider stashing a prepaid phone in your safe room, which you can use to call 911 or someone who can get you help.

Sometimes, it’s safest to get out of the home entirely. Visualize and practice the routes you can use. This is especially important if you or your family members leaving with you use mobility aids, such as a wheelchair or walker. If possible, keep your packed bag hidden near one of the escape routes, so you can get it on your way out. Also think about where you will go once you’re out of the home.

Consider letting a neighbor or friend know what’s going on in your home, so you can develop code words with them to indicate if you need police, if you need a taxi, etc. You may want to develop code words with your children to indicate if they should call police, if they should hide in their safe room, etc.

Special Considerations

We can’t plan for everything, but there are some things that are important to think about.

Pet Safety

Will you be able to take your pet with you, or do you need to identify someone who can watch your pet if you leave? If you can take your pet with you, include vaccination records and city license tag with your go-bag.

Tech Safety

Has your abuser had access to your phone, computer, email, social media accounts, etc? These can all be used to track your location or harass you. A prepaid cell phone or similar device that your abuser has not had access to can be something that helps you to safely communicate.

Mental and emotional safety

While the priority in a safety plan is physical safety, accounting for mental and emotional safety is important as well. Find safe places to meditate, secure resources for journaling, look up sources of mental health support, and similar steps.

Disability and accessibility

If you or someone you support has a disability or is Deaf, your safety plan should reflect your individual needs. This could include access to interpreter services for Deaf survivors, availability of mobility aids, safety for a service animal, the role of a caregiver, and similar considerations.

Even if you have a fully formed safety plan in place, trust your judgment. Only you know what is best to promote your safety, so actions you take in the short-term to do that, can ultimately help you plan for the long-term.

Contact us at our Hotline, (904) 354-3114, to get help or for more information.