IF YOU ARE IN IMMEDIATE DANGER, PLEASE CALL 911
Although some of the things that you outline in your safety plan may seem obvious, it’s important to remember that in moments of crisis your brain doesn’t function the same way as when you are calm. When adrenaline is pumping through your veins it can be hard to think clearly or make logical decisions about your safety. Having a safety plan laid out in advance and reviewing it can help you to protect yourself in those stressful moments. It is best practice to plan for the worst and hope for the best than to have no plan at all.
Safety While Living with an Abusive Partner
- Identify your partner’s use and level of force so that you can assess the risk of physical danger to you and your children before it occurs.
- Don’t run to where the children are, as your partner may hurt them as well. If violence is unavoidable, make yourself a small target. Dive into a corner and curl up into a ball with your face protected and arms around each side of your head, fingers entwined.
- If possible, have a phone accessible at all times. If you do not have a phone, you can talk to your local advocate to inquire about 911 phone availability.
- Let trusted friends and neighbors know of your situation and develop a plan and visual signal for when you need help.
- Teach your children how to get help – including calling 911 and giving their name and address. Instruct them not to get involved in the violence between you and your partner. Plan a code word to signal to them that they should get help or leave the house.
- Tell your children that violence is never okay, even when someone they love is being violent.
- Tell them that neither you, nor they, are at fault or are the cause of the violence, and that when anyone is being violent, it is important to stay safe.
- Plan for what you will do if your children tell your partner of your plan or if your partner otherwise finds out about your plan.
- Keep weapons like guns and knives locked away and as inaccessible as possible. Your local advocate may have access to gun trigger locks.
- Make a habit of backing the car into the driveway and keeping it fueled. Keep the driver’s door unlocked and others locked — for a quick escape.
Safety When Preparing to Leave
When you are preparing to leave or when you have left the relationship marks the time the abuser has lost control of you and is losing their power. They will become desperate and the lethality will most likely increase. Planning for this step is critical – for you, your children and your pets. Things to consider and include in your plan for leaving:
- Check with your local advocate for access to the Address Confidentiality Program.
- Open a savings account in your own name to begin to establish income and increase your independence
- Determine who would let you stay with them
- Consider going to your local domestic violence shelter. Know where it is and how to get there.
- Consider getting a protection from abuse order
- Rent a post office box for your mail
- Leave money and an extra set of keys with a trusted friend
- Contact your local animal shelter to arrange for support for your pets until you are safe
- Contact your local advocate for a personalized safety plan for you and your family
Safety While Pregnant
Consider contacting your midwife, obstetrics, or prenatal office to make an appointment. If the abuser is with you while you go to your appointment, when you check in, pass the receptionist a pre-written note stating you are in a domestic violence situation and to speak to your provider one-on-one.
If a violent incident is about to occur, get on the floor in a fetal position protecting your belly and head as much as possible. Contact your prenatal office as soon as possible for a checkup as it is crucial to your baby’s development and safety.
Safety in Your Home
- Change your locks as soon as possible, purchase additional locks and safety devices to secure your windows.
- Discuss a safety plan for when your children are not with you.
- Inform neighbors and landlord that your partner no longer lives with you and that they should call police if they see them near your home.