What is it?
A safety plan is a personalized, practical plan that includes ways to remain safe while in a relationship, planning to leave, or after you leave. Safety planning involves how to cope with emotions, tell friends and family about the abuse, take legal action and more.
At Abuse Alternatives we safety plan with victims, friends and family members — anyone who is concerned about their own safety or the safety of someone else.
A good safety plan will have all of the vital information you need and be tailored to your unique situation and will help walk you through different scenarios.
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 decisions about your safety. Having a safety plan laid out in advance can help you to protect yourself in those stressful moments.
Making A Safety Plan
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.
Identify safe areas of the house where there are no weapons and there are ways to escape. If arguments occur, try to move to those areas.
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 and know what numbers to call for help. Know where the nearest public phone is located. Know the phone number to your local shelter. If your life is in danger, call the police.
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. 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 right, 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.
Practice how to get out safely. Practice with your children.
Plan for what you will do if your children tells 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.
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.
Try not to wear scarves or long jewelry that could be used to strangle you.
Create several plausible reasons for leaving the house at different times of the day or night.
What If You Have Kids?
Teach your children when and how to call 911.
Instruct them to leave the home if possible when things begin to escalate, and where they can go.
Come up with a code word that you can say when they need to leave the home in case of an emergency — make sure that they know not to tell others what the secret word means.
In the house: identify a room they can go to when they’re afraid and something they can think about when they’re scared.
Instruct them to stay out of the kitchen, bathroom and other areas where there are items that could be used as weapons.
Teach them that although they want to protect their parent, they should never intervene.
Help them make a list of people that they are comfortable talking with and expressing themselves to.
Enroll them in a counseling program. Local service providers often have children’s programs.