Personalized Safety Plan
The most important thing is to keep you safe. Your safety should be your number one priority. Listed below are tips to develop a safety plan that will work best for you. The resources in this book can help you to create a personalized safety plan. This handbook has numerable resources thus giving you more options and alternatives. Nonetheless, they are all made available for you to get help fast.
There are instances when the abuser has totally incapacitated its victim in the figurative sense. The victim can be held as a prisoner at her own home without effective means of communication. HAVEN may be able to provide you with a cell phone that is programmed to only call 911. These phones are for when you need to call the police and cannot get to any other phone.
If you are in an abusive relationship, think about…
- Having important phone numbers nearby for you and your children. Better yet, memorize their contact numbers. Numbers to have are the police, hotlines, friends and the local shelter.
- Friends or neighbors you could tell about the abuse. Ask them to call the police if they hear angry or violent noises. If you have children, teach them how to dial 911. Make up a code word that you can use when you need help.
- Think of ways on how to get out of your home safely. Practice ways to get out. If children are involved, ask them to participate in the guise of having emergency drill exercises.
- Spot safer places in your home where there are exits and no weapons. If you feel abuse is going to happen try to get your abuser to one of these safer places.
- Any weapons in the house or any household tools that can be used as weapons. Think about ways that you could get them out of the house or try to move them in places with difficult access.
- Even if you do not plan to leave, think of where you could go and how you might leave. Try doing things that get you out of the house – taking out the trash, walking the pet or going to the store. Make a routine of things to do that will give you enough time to distance yourself from the abuser for good. Put together a bag of things you use everyday (see the checklist below). Hide it where it is easy for you to get.
- Go over your safety plan often. Check if there is anything amiss.
If you consider leaving your abuser, think about…
- Four places you could go if you leave your home. It is highly advisable for you to go to your family and extended relatives.
- People who will help and support you if you left. Think about people who will keep a bag for you and who might lend you money. Make plans for your pets. Leave them in shelters for the meantime.
- Keeping change for phone calls at all times. It is also wise to have enough cash for a cell phone.
- Opening a bank account or getting a credit card in your name.
- How you might leave. Try doing things that get you out of the house – taking out the trash, walking the family pet, or going to the store. Once this is has become routine, the abuser will not be dubious of your activities so you can make a run for it. Practice how you would leave.
- How you could take your children with you safely. It is highly probable that you are risking all of your lives. However, you need to protect yourself to be able to protect your children.
- Putting together a bag of everyday items. Hide it where it is easy for you to get. Also, choose a location that will not be noticed by the abuser.
- Review your safety plan often. There is no such thing as being over-prepared when your life and your children’s lives are at stake.
Items To Take, If Possible:
- Children (if it is safe)
- Keys to car, house, work
- Extra clothes
- Important papers for you and your children
- Birth certificates
- Social security cards
- School and medical records
- Bankbooks, credit cards
- Driver’s license
- Car registration
- Welfare identification
- Passports, green cards, work permits
- Lease/rental agreement
- Mortgage payment book, unpaid bills
- Insurance papers
- PPO, divorce papers, custody orders
- Address book
- Pictures, jewelry, things that mean a lot to you
- Items for your children (toys, blankets, etc.)
If you have left your abuser, think about…
- Your safety – you still need to. The abuser is most likely to stalk you, even when you are in the comfort of your immediate family.
- Getting a cell phone. HAVEN may be able to provide you with a cell phone, programmed to only call 911. These cell phones are for emergencies and when you cannot get to any other phone.
- Getting a PPO from the court. Keep a copy with you all the time. Give a copy to the police, people who take care of your children, their schools and your boss.
- Changing the locks of your house and cars. Consider putting in stronger doors, smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, a security system and outside lights. Always set the alarm even if there are people at the house. You should also set a security alarm for the upper floors of your home.
- Telling friends and neighbors that your abuser no longer lives with you. Ask them to call the police if they see your abuser near your home or children.
- Telling people who take care of your children and the names of people who are allowed to pick them up. Talk to your children’s school principal about the situation. If you have a PPO protecting your children, give their teachers and babysitters a copy of it.
- Telling someone at work about what has happened. Ask that person to screen your calls. If you have a PPO that includes where you work, consider giving your boss a copy of it and a picture of the abuser. Your boss will advise the office security head about the abuse. Think about and practice a safety plan for your workplace including the time you leave for and from work.
- Not using the same stores or businesses that you did when you were with your abuser. It is highly possible for the abuser to wait for you at these familiar places.
- Someone that you can call if you feel down or upset. Call that person if you are thinking about going to a support group or workshop.
- Devise a safe way to speak with your abuser if you must. Choose locations where there are zero chances of you being alone with him.
- Go over your safety plan over and over.
Important Note: Abusers try to control their victim’s lives. When abusers feel a loss of control – like when victims try to leave them – the abuse often gets worse. Take special care when you leave. Abusers become desperate and this might take a fatal turn. Practice constant vigilance. Though you have left him, he will continually try to gain access to your life.
— adapted from the Metro Nashville Police Department’s personalized safety plan.