Information on Safety Planning

Preparing a Safety Plan

Safety at home

When abuser is there:

  • Stay out of rooms with no exit.
  • Avoid rooms that may have weapons.
  • Select a code word that alerts friends and children to call police.
  • Leave suitcase and checklist items with a friend.

When abuser has moved out:

  • Obtain an order of protection.
  • Change locks on doors and windows.
  • Insert a peephole in the door.
  • Change telephone number, screen calls and block caller ID.
  • Install/increase outside lighting.
  • Consider getting a dog
  • Inform landlord or neighbor of situation, and ask that police be called if abuser is seen around the house.

Safety at work

What to do:

  • Tell your employer:
  • Give security a photo of abuser and order of protection.
  • Screen your calls.
  • Have an escort to your car or bus.
  • Vary your route home.
  • Consider a cell phone for your car.
  • Carry a noisemaker or personal alarm.

Protecting your children

  • Plan and rehearse an escape route with your children.
  • If it is safe, teach them a code word to call 911, and how to use a public telephone.
  • Let school personnel know to whom children can be released.
  • Give school personnel a photo of abuser.
  • Warn school personnel not to divulge your address and phone number.

Safety When Preparing to Leave

  • To leave quickly plan to have money, an extra set of keys extra clothing and important documents with a close family member or trusted friend.
  • If it is safe, teach them a code word to call 911, and how to use a public telephone.
  • Let school personnel know to whom children can be released.
  • Give school personnel a photo of abuser.
  • Warn school personnel not to divulge your address and phone number.

Checklist - What you may want to take with you, if it is safe to do so:

  • Identification
  • Address book
  • Money
  • Credit cards
  • Medications
  • Social Security Cards
  • Keys (house/car/work)
  • Welfare identification
  • Driver's license/vehicle registration
  • Birth and marriage certificates
  • Checkbook, ATM (Automatic Teller(Machine) card and other bank books
  • Work permit
  • School and vaccination records
  • Children's birth certificates
  • Divorce papers
  • Passport
  • Pets (if you can)
  • Jewelry

Getting an Order of Protection

  • Protective orders are available at the courthouse and an advocate is available at the nearest shelter to help you get one.
  • Call the Police to get an immediate Order of Protection and check back with them to be sure it is on record.
  • Keep your protective order with you at ALL times, and give copies to family, friends, schools, employers and babysitters.
  • If the abuser destroys your protective order you can get another one from the courthouse.
  • If the abuser violates the protective order, you can call the police and report a violation, call an advocate with a domestic violence program, and/or advise the court of the violation.

Safety and Drug or Alcohol Use

  • Many people use alcohol and drugs. Using illegal drugs and abusing alcohol can be very hard on victims physically and emotionally, and may hurt the relationship with children and put the victim at a disadvantage in court.
  • You can enhance your safety, if you chose to use, by doing so in a safe place and with people who understand the risk of violence and are committed to your safety.
  • You can protect your children by arranging for a close family member or trusted friend to be with them.

Safety and My Emotional Health

  • The experience of being battered and verbally degraded by an abuser is exhausting and emotionally draining. The process of building a new life for yourself takes courage and incredible energy.
  • To conserve emotional energy and avoid hard emotional times you can call a Hotline or make an appointment with a counselor to find out about support groups and other services available for you and your children.
  • If you feel down and need someone to talk to and cannot reach your counselor, a close family member or trusted friend, you can call the 24-hours crisis line of a local domestic violence shelter.

Safety when Exchanging Children for Visitation

  • When visitation is unsupervised, you need to have a plan for reducing the opportunity for violence to occur.
  • You can arrange for the abuser to collect and return children to the home of a close family member or trusted friend.
  • If they are to be collected at your home, you should arrange for someone to be with you.
  • You should keep a diary of all contacts relating to exchange and transfer of children and any threatening incidents.

If you are in need of an interpreter please let the district attorney's office know. One will be provided at no cost to you.

Project supported by funding from the Office of Violence Against Women, U.S Dept. of Justice. Points of view in this document are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the position or policy of the U.S.DOJ. Rev 11/10