If you are in an abusive relationship, then developing a safety plan is extremely important in aiding you in your journey of escape to a safe place. Below are questions that will help you develop a personalized plan of safety that is unique to your particular situation. No abuse is the same. No safety plan will look the same. Your plan is just as unique as you.
What to do right now
Recall phone numbers of safety: the local police, local and or national hotlines, family and or friends, and local shelters. Even if you can’t remember all of the numbers, write them on a sheet of paper and keep them in a confidential, yet easy to access location.
Reach out to your family, friends or neighbors and alert them about the abuse. Ask them to contact the police on your behalf if they hear or witness any angry or violent behavior. If you have children, teach them how to dial 9-1-1. Consider creating a code word to use when you need help – a word that would not necessarily alert your abuser of your strategy of safety.
Re-assess your home. Pay close attention to various ways of escape. Consider your access to the doors or windows, which can serve as quick and easy escape points during a violent episode.
Remove weapons or items that the abuser can utilize as weapons during an attack. Remember to always steer the conversation or violent struggle to a room that you consider to be a safer place within the home, particularly a room with an exit and no weapons or threatening items.
Review your safety plan as often as possible in order to mentally prepare yourself for a physical attack.
What to do before you leave
Determine your safe place. Think about three places you could go if you leave your home. If possible, make preparations prior to leaving. If the safe place is a family member or friend’s home, you may consider having a pre-packed bag already there so you won’t have to pack or travel with several items while fleeing to safety.
Decide the best time to flee. If possible, choose a time that will keep your entire family safe. For example, if you have children, consider how you could take your children with you safely. There are times when leaving with your children may very well put all of your lives at risk. You must protect yourself in order to protect your children.
Determine what stays and what goes. Pack only the necessary items you will need in order to start your life anew.
See below for a more detailed list of items:
Cell Phone & Charger, Cash, Checks, and Credit Cards, Birth Certificates and Social Security Cards, Driver’s License and Auto Insurance Cards, Medical Records and Medicine, Keys to the Car, House and Job, School Records, Passports, Green Cards, and Work Permits, Lease/Rental Agreement, Pictures, Jewelry or Other Sentimental Items, Clothing, Shoes, Toiletry Items, and Items for Your Children (If Applicable)
What to do after you leave
Consider requesting an order or protection. Keep a copy with you at all times. Provide a copy to your child or children’s caregivers. Provide a copy to your supervisor.
Challenge your current level of security. If you have already relocated to your own apartment or house, consider adding reinforcement to the existing locks and points of access. Add a security system, if possible, and add additional lighting inside and outside of the home.
Communicate with all parties involved. Ask your job to screen your calls. Provide your child or children’s caregivers with a list of individuals who are allowed to pick up your child or children from school. Tell your family, friends, and even your neighbors about the abuser. Ask them to notify you and police if they see your abuser near your property.
Change your habits. Find new grocery stores and shopping centers to frequent. Your abuser may try to find you. Changing your appearance, driving route, and old hang out locations will help you remain safe.
Chat about it. As you begin to start anew and address your past in a healthy, holistic way, you may want to consider utilizing counseling or therapeutic services. Having a positive partner during this process will help you understand and cope with the abuse through a positive channel.