Personalized Safety Plan
The following steps represent my plan for increasing my safety and preparing in advance for the possibility for further violence. Although I do not have control over my partner’s violence, I do have a choice about how to respond to him/her and how to best get myself and my children to safety.
STEP 1: SAFETY DURING A VIOLENT INCIDENT
If an argument seems unavoidable, move to a room or area with easy access to an exit - not a bathroom, kitchen, or anywhere near weapons. Identify which door, window, stairwell or elevator offers the quickest way out of the home - and practice your route. Have a bag packed and ready. Keep it in an undisclosed but accessible place where you can retrieve it quickly. Find neighbors you can tell about the violence and ask that they call the police if they hear a disturbance. Devise a code word to use with your children, family, and friends when you need the police. Decide where you will go if you have to leave, even if you do not think it will come to that. Use your instincts and judgment. Consider giving the abuser what he or she wants to defuse a dangerous situation. You have a right to protect yourself when you are in danger. You do not deserve to be battered or threatened.I can use the following options:
a. If I decide to leave, I will _________________________ first.
b. I can keep a bag ready and put it _________________________ so I can leave quickly.
c. I can tell _________________________ about the violence and have them call the police when violence erupts.
d. I can teach my children to use the telephone to call 911 for the police and the fire department.
e. I will use this word (code) _________________________ for my children, friends, or family, which means for them to call 911 for help.
f. If I have to leave my home, I will go _________________________. (Be prepared even if you think you will never have to leave.)
g. I can teach safety strategies & escape plans to my children.
h. When an argument erupts, I will move to a safer room such as _________________________.
i. I will use my instincts, intuition, and judgment. I will protect my children and myself until we are out of danger.
j. If I am injured or in pain, I will go to an ER or urgent care center to have my injuries medically documented and photographed, in case I need this evidence later. (I will keep copies if I turn them over to the police or other authorities.)
STEP 2. SAFETY WHEN PREPARING TO LEAVE AN ABUSIVE RELATIONSHIP
I can use the following strategies:
a. I will leave money and an extra set of keys with _________________________.
b. I will keep important documents (or copies) and extra house and car keys at _________________________.
c. I will open a savings account by this date _________________________ to increase my independence.
d. Other things I can do to increase my independence are: _________________________.
e. I will carry a domestic violence hotline number with me _________________________. I can call it when I’m in crisis.
f. The shelter’s hotline is _________________________. I can call it for emergency shelter if I need a place to go.
g. I will keep a cell phone (or change for phone calls) with me at ALL times. I know that if I use a telephone credit card, that the following month the telephone bill will tell my abuser who I called after I left. I will keep this information confidential by using a prepaid phone card, using a friend’s telephone card or using a pay phone. (I can get a free emergency 911 cell phone from any domestic violence agency or the police department.)
h. I will check with _________________________ and _________________________ to know who will let me stay with them or who will lend me money if I leave.
i. I can leave extra clothes for myself and my children with _________________________.
j. I will review my safety plan every _________________________ (time frame) in order to plan the safest route. I will review the plan with _________________________ (a friend, counselor or advocate.)
k. I will rehearse the escape plan and practice it with my children.
l. If I leave, I will not stay with family or friends that my abuser knows, but will instead go to an abuse shelter or secret place that he does not know about. The best place is one where my children and I can get professional advice.
STEP 3. SAFETY AT HOME
Develop a safety plan and discuss it with your children. Review the plan as often as possible. Change the locks and install devices to secure your windows. Make sure your children’s school, day-care center, or camp knows who is authorized to pick up your children. Tell your neighbors and landlord that your abuser no longer lives there and ask them to call the police if they see him or her near your home. Before you resume a potentially abusive relationship, discuss alternatives with someone you trust.
I can use the following safety methods:
a. I can change the locks on my doors and windows as soon as possible.
b. I can replace wooden doors with steel doors.
c. I can install security systems - i.e. additional locks, window bars, poles to wedge against doors, electronic sensors, etc.
d. I can purchase fire escape ladders to be used for escape from the second floor.
e. I can install smoke detectors and buy fire extinguishers for each floor of my home.
f. I can install an outside (motion detector) lighting system that lights up when someone approaches my home.
g. I will teach my children how to use the phone to make collect calls to me and to _________________________ (friend, family, minister) or 911 if my abuser/partner tries to take them away or kidnap them.
h. I will tell the people who care for my children the names of those persons who have permission to pick up my children and them that my partner is NOT allowed to pick them up. I understand that if he is their legal father, and I do not have a restraining order that includes the children, no one can keep him from picking them up. I may need to move them to a new school or daycare to be safe.
I will inform the following people of my wishes regarding this:
Day Care _________________________
Sunday School _________________________
i. I can tell the following people that my partner no longer lives with me and that they should call the police if he is seen near my residence:
Church Leaders _________________________
STEP 4. ORDER OF PROTECTION (RESTRAINING ORDER)
I understand that a restraining order will not necessarily keep me safe. It may help me, especially if my abuser has a reputation to protect, or he respects or fears the police or has a fear of going to jail. However, I understand that it may not help, and it can even make my abuser more angry and dangerous, especially if he has a criminal history, is unemployed, is already stalking me and is not afraid of the police. If I do have a restraining order, and my abuser violates it, the police can arrest him. The police may not arrest my abuser until he physically harms me, if I do not have a restraining order. If I apply for a restraining order, I can ask for temporary custody at the same time, to protect my children.
The following steps will help enforce the order of protection:
a. I will make copies of it and keep them_________________________ (the location). I will always keep the original with me.
b. I will give copies of my protection order to police departments in the areas that I visit my friends, family, where I live, and where I work.
c. If I visit other counties, I will register my protection order with those counties.
d. When I travel to other counties, domestic violence agencies can help me register my protection order.
e. I will tell my employer, my church leader, my friends, my family and others that I have a protection order.
f. If my protection order gets destroyed, I know I can go to the County Courthouse and get another copy.
g. If my partner violates the protection order, I will call the police and report it. I will call my lawyer, my advocate, counselor, and/ or tell the courts about the violation.
h. If the police do not arrest him for violating the order, I will call my domestic violence advocate, my attorney or my counselor. I can file a complaint with the Chief of the Police Department to complain.
i. I can file a private criminal complaint with the district judge in the jurisdiction that the restraining order violation took place or with the District Attorney. A domestic violence advocate will help me do this.
j. After I get my protective order, I can call 911 and ask for a police escort to go back to my house to get some of my belongings.
STEP 5. SAFETY IN PUBLIC
If you have an order of protection (restraining order), keep it with you at all times. Inform building security and coworkers you trust of your situation. If possible, provide a photograph of your abuser to building security. Vary your routes to and from your job, school or treatment, and arrange for someone to escort you to your car, bus or van. Plan what to do in various situations if the abuser confronts you.
I can do the following:
a. I can tell my boss, security, treatment staff and _________________________ about this situation. (I’ll show them a picture of my abuser, and give them a description of his car.)
b. I can ask _________________________ to help screen my phone calls.
c. When leaving work or treatment I can do the following: _________________________
d. When I am driving and problems arise, I can: _________________________
e. If I use public transportation, I can: _________________________
f. I will shop at different grocery stores and shopping malls at different hours than I did when I was with my partner.
g. I will use a different bank and bank at different hours than I did when I was with my partner.
h. I can also do the following: _________________________
i. For now, I will do what I can to avoid any place (like churches, meetings, family members houses, daycares, etc.) where I think my abuser will look for me or expect to see me or my children.
STEP 6. ALCOHOL AND DRUGS
I can enhance my safety if I do the following:
a. If I am going to use alcohol or drugs, I am going to do it in a safe place with people who understand the risk of violence and who are committed to my safety.
b. I can also: _________________________
c. If my partner is using, I can: _________________________
d. I can also: _________________________
e. To protect my children, I can: _________________________
STEP 7. EMOTIONAL HEALTH
I can do the following:
a. If I feel depressed and ready to return to a potentially violent situation/ partner, I can _________________________.
b. When I have to talk to my partner in person or on the phone, I can: _________________________.
c. I will use “I can…” statements and I will be assertive with people.
d. I can remind myself “_________________________” when I feel people are trying to control or abuse me.
e. I can call the following people and/ or places for support:
1) _________________________ at (Phone #) _________________________
2) _________________________ at (Phone #) _________________________
f. Things I can do to make me feel stronger are: _________________________
g. I can read When Love Goes Wrong by Ann Goes for domestic violence information, legal & custody advice, etc.
h. I can read The Language of Letting Go by Melody Beattie, when I need to stay strong. (I can read Chapter 6 in When Love Goes Wrong about how to stay strong.)
i. I can keep/create a written record of all incidents of abuse and violence (approximate dates, descriptions of incidents, photos, answering machine threats, medical records, etc.) I can keep this in a safe place or give copies to the police.
j. I will remember that even if my abuser goes to a batterer’s program (or “anger management” group), this does not necessarily make me safer. I understand that an abuser that does not respect my wishes, continues to harass me, threatens me, stalks me, tries to “romance” me or “win me back” is not really changing his behavior or thinking of what is best for me.
k. I will base all of my decisions about my future and my children’s future on this one thing alone: our SAFETY. I will ask myself before I do anything: “Will this action promote my long term happiness and be in my long-tern best interests?” I will not make any major decisions based on what others think, or on guilt that I may feel.
l. I will remember that the abuse that I have experienced is not my fault, and that I did not deserve it. I will remind myself that I have a right to be happy and safe, and that my children deserve to be happy and safe, too.
Created by Julie Owens, Domestic Violence Advocate.