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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. A good safety plan will have all of the vital information you need and be tailored to your unique situation, and will give you awareness of your personal and community resources.

A safety plan needs to be in three parts:

  1. Safety to avoid serious injury and to escape an incident of violence

  2. Preparation for separation

  3. Long term safety after separation

Avoiding Injury

During an incident of violence at home you will want to do everything you can to avoid serious injury. Think ahead and plan.

  • Leave if you can. Know the easiest escape routes – doors, windows, etc. What’s in the way? Are there obstacles to a speedy exit?

  • Know where you’re running to. Have a safe place arranged. You may want to organize this with a neighbor in advance. You may want to leave a spare set of clothes for you and your children with a neighbor.

  • Always keep your purse; cash cards, keys, essential medications, and important papers together in a place where you can get them quickly or have someone else fetch them.

  • If you can’t leave the house, try to move to a place of low risk. Try to keep out of the bathroom, kitchen, garage, and away from weapons or rooms without access to outside.

  • Talk to your children about getting help. Think of a code word you could say to your children or friends so they can call for help. Depending on age and ability they could:

    • Run to a neighbor and ask them to call the police

    • Call 911! Teach them the words to use to get help. (“This is Jimmy, 99 East Street. Mom’s getting hurt. She needs help now.”)

    • Need a safe place outside the house to hide. Arrange this in advance.

  • Use judgment and intuition – when the situation is very serious you may have to do what the attacker wants until things calm down. Then be on the alert for your chance to escape and get help.

  • Try to leave quietly. Don’t give your attacker clues about the direction you’ve taken or where you’ve gone. Lock doors behind you if you can – it will slow down any attempt to follow you.

  • Have refuge or safe house numbers memorized or easy to find.

Preparation for Separation

Advance arrangements

  • Arrange transport in advance. Know where you’ll go. Advise the advocate or shelter.

  • Tell only one or two trusted friends or an advocate about your plans. Go through the details together.

  • Start a savings account. A small amount of money saved weekly can build up and be useful later.

  • Gather documents. Start collecting the papers and information you may need: birth certificates, marriage certificate, custody papers, passports, driver’s license, immigration documentation, medical and legal records, etc.

  • Ask your family doctor to carefully note any evidence of injuries on your patient records.

What to take

  • Documents for yourself and children

  • Keys to house, garage, car, office

  • Clothing and other personal needs

  • Phone card and list of important addresses and phone numbers

  • For children take essential school needs, favorite toy or comforter

  • Photograph of your partner so that people protecting you know what he looks like

Long Term Safety After Separation
  • Teach your children what to do if your ex-partner makes contact with them unexpectedly, breaching access arrangements, i.e. rules about checking first before opening the door, coming inside or going to neighbors if he comes to the house, telling a teacher if they are approached at school.

  • Obtain a Protection Order and make copies for your handbag, home, work, school, etc.

  • Tell other adults who take care of your children which people have permission to pick them up and who is not permitted to do so (e.g. school teacher, day-care staff, baby sitter).

  • Consider installing an outside lighting system that lights up when a person comes near your house at night.

  • Tell neighbors that your partner does not live with you and ask them to call the police if he is seen near your house.

  • Ask your neighbors to contact the police if they hear signs of an assault occurring.

  • Tell your employer that you have a protection order, or that you are afraid of your ex-partner.

  • Ask for your telephone calls at work to be screened.

  • If your ex-partner violates the protection order, telephone the Police and report it, contact your lawyer and your advocate.

  • If possible, use different shops and banks from those you used when you lived with your ex-partner.

  • Keep a record of any violations; noting the time, date and what occurred and what action you took.

  • Think about how to deal with potential abuse, feelings of fear and safety issues when you have to communicate with your ex-partner by telephone, or in person.

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