Develop A Safety Plan-Before You Leave
A violent relationship puts you and your children at risk for injury and even death. Developing a plan will help provide for your safety and the safety of your children.
Your first step is to contact a local advocacy group for support, information, and advice on how to stay safe. Call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (1-800-799-7233) for the nearest program. The hotline is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, in English, Spanish, and other languages.
You can also see the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence website at www.ncadv.org/resources/StateCoalitionList.php to find the program nearest to you that offers shelter and legal support.
Safety plans for now and later
- Stay safe if you are in a violent relationship.
- When an argument occurs, go to a safe room.
- Try to have a phone available at all times.
- Create a code word or sign that can be used to alert family and friends that you need help.
- Use this safety plan if you're preparing to leave a violent relationship.
- Have a packed bag ready with copies of your car and house keys, money or credit cards, and important papers, such as Social Security cards and birth certificates for you and your children. Keep it hidden in your home, or leave the bag with friends or family or at work if possible.
- Open a savings account or get a credit card, if you can do so in secret.
- Use this checklist of items to take with you when you leave.
- Learn how to stay safe after you leave a violent relationship.
- Change your phone number.
- Change your routine.
- If your abuser comes to your home, you don't have to let him or her in. Keep the doors closed and locked, and call the police.
After you have left, you may need to take extra measures to stay safe. Your local advocacy group can help you get in touch with legal and social services in your area. This group may also provide information on counseling and support groups that can help you recover emotionally from your abuse.
Haven Hills Inc
To help ensure your safety and the safety of your children, it is critical that you develop a comprehensive plan prior to leaving an abusive situation. The following are steps to consider.
- Make arrangements that, in the event of an emergency, you and your children can stay with someone you trust that your partner doesn't know.
- Ask your neighbors to call 911 if they hear suspicious noises coming from your home.
- Know important telephone numbers (police, friends, hotline, shelter)
- If you sense a violent episode is imminent, and it is safe to do so, disable or hide weapons.
- Teach your children to call 911.
- Practice getting yourself and your children out of your home safely. Pre-identify which doors, windows, elevator or stairwell would work best. Make a plan for what to do if you and your children become separated.
- Put together an Escape Kit and place it somewhere safe but accessible, NOT in your home.
- Advise your employer/coworkers never to speak with your abuser without first checking with you and never to give information about you to anyone. Arrange to have someone screen your calls.
- Devise a code word to use with your children, family, friends, neighbors, your children's school officials, your employer, etc. when you need the police.
- Open a savings account in your name only at a bank different from where you family's other account(s) are.
- Do not leave behind notes, doodles with shelter/bus/airline information
If you're in a violent or abusive relationship, what can you do to keep yourself safe?
For some survivors of domestic violence, developing a plan ahead of time is helpful to have in the event of another violent episode or when they feel emotionally overwhelmed. A plan may be helpful when it is hard to think clearly in the middle of a crisis. Each survivor's situation is unique, so every safety plan is different. And a good safety plan changes over time, as your situation changes.
Here are some ideas that you can consider, strategies that other survivors may have included in their plans. These ideas do not cover every possible scenario; and you may find that some may or may not work for you. It is your decision whether to make a safety plan, and what to include if you do make one. It may help to speak with a with expertise in domestic violence. You should also consider where you can safety keep this plan so your abuser does not have access to it.
Safety strategies to consider:
Talk with people you trust such as friends, family, neighbors and co-workers. Let them know what is happening and talk about ways they might be able to help.
Consider what you might do to increase safety during an argument or if you can tell abuse is coming. For example, some rooms in your home may be safer than others. Some survivors try to move away from the kitchen because it has knives and other many sharp objects. Some survivors try to stay close to a door, so they could run if they needed to.
Memorize the numbers you might need to use in an emergency, like 911, a friend’s or family member’s number, or the local hotline. In New York City, you can get to Safe Horizon’s Domestic Violence Hotline by calling 311. Keep in mind that the person hurting you could take your cell phone from you, so memorizing numbers or keeping a list of numbers somewhere safe may be helpful.
Plan how you would escape if you needed to. If you live in an apartment building, make sure you know all the ways out of the building. Consider what routes you could take to get to transportation, and where you could go to get to safety. You could learn how to get to a local police station, fire department, hospital emergency room, or 24-hour store. You might want to identify a route to the subway that is different from your usual route, and plan to use that in an emergency.
Consider talking with your children about safety. Some survivors teach their children how to call 911, or talk with them about a neighbor’s home or place in the community that may be a safe place to go in an emergency.
Prepare an emergency bag. You may want to put together a bag that includes money, copies of house and car keys, medicine, and copies of important papers such as birth certificates, social security cards, immigration documents, court orders, and health insurance information. The bag could also include extra clothes, important phone numbers, or other things you might need if you had to leave your home in a hurry. If you prepare an emergency bag, you may be able to keep it at a trusated friend’s or family member’s home.
If you have decided to prepare an emergency bag, and have a place in mind where you can safely keep it, here is a checklist to help you decide what to put in the bag.
- House keys
- Car keys
- Order of Protection
- ATM card
- Money/cab fare
- Credit card
- Green card
- Work permit
- Public Assistance ID
- Mobile phone/coins to use in a payphone
- Driver's license & registration
- Social security card
- Your partner’s social security number
- Medical records
- Address book
- Insurance policies
- Important legal documents
- Police records • Record of violence
- Baby’s things (diapers, formula, medication)
- Children’s school and immunization records
- Birth certificates
- Non-perishable snacks for you and your children (e.g. juice and crackers)
- Important phone numbers; the national hotline at 800.799.SAFE (7233)