Planning for Your Safety
Trust your judgment to plan for safety
When faced with the threat of Domestic Violence (DV) or while experiencing DV, a Safety Plan can help you and your family escape the situation and get to a safe location without harm. Leaving an abusive relationship can be extremely dangerous and should be done with the assistance of professionals. You are not alone and leaving safely is possible.
What Is a Safety Plan?
A safety plan is a list of actions, specific to you and your life, that can help you lower the risk of being hurt by your partner, whether physically, emotionally, financially, or through any other form of abuse.
Some people find it helpful to write out their safety plan. Others may feel that it would not be safe to have a printed plan around, and instead make a mental plan. You know your situation best, so trust your judgment. It is always best to consult with trained DV professionals to create a safety plan.
How to Make a Safety Plan
To make a safety plan, think about what you can do when you don’t feel safe and what you can do in an emergency. It is important to note that you should not tell your abuser that you are thinking of or planning on leaving.
If you call the WC&S Hotline, our trained advocates can help you make a customized safety plan and will support you throughout the process. Below are some considerations for safety planning.
Plan Where You Can Go
- If you’re not comfortable or safe at home, where else can you go to stay safe?
- If you need to leave in an emergency, what is a safe public place you can go?
- Where are the nearest shelters for DV survivors? How can you access them?
- What alternate route can you take to get to work, school, or another location you frequently go to?
- Who can pick you up or meet you if you need a ride?
Leaving your home for safety reasons does not mean you lose the right to return to your home. If you leave for safety reasons, you cannot be accused of desertion.
Plan What You Would Take With You
Once you have a safe destination in mind, collect important documents and personal items to bring with you when you leave. Focus on the most important items for the health and wellbeing of you and your family, as well as any necessary legal documents that cannot be replaced.
Keep the following somewhere safe (in a secure but accessible hiding place in your home) or with someone you trust:
- A spare set of house keys
- A spare car key or fob
- Extra money (use cash instead of cards if you are concerned about being traced)
- Credit cards, debit cards, and checkbooks
- Prescriptions and medications
- A set of clothes for you and your children
- A copy of PFA/restraining order [link to PFA page]
- A favorite toy for your child
- Other important items (photos, address book, jewelry)
- Copies of important papers (passport, deed to house or lease, birth certificates for you and your children, medical records, social security cards, school and vaccine records)
Planning With Your Children
- Who can watch your child or children in an emergency?
- Do your children know how to call 911?
- What code word or phrase can you and your children use to let them know they need to call for help?
- Where is a safe place your children can go if there is danger, such as the home of a trusted neighbor?
Planning for Your Pets
Some items to have ready or to keep with someone you trust:
- A leash, crate, or carrier
- Records of pet ownership
- Vaccination records
- Dog license
- Favorite toy
- Treats and food