Domestic Violence: Importance of Safety Planning

  • If you are planning to leave an abusive relationship/home:
    • Do you have a friend or supportive family member that lives nearby with whom you can stay?
    • Do you have a friend that will stay with you to minimize the violence in the home?
    • Do you want to go to a battered woman’s shelter, homeless shelter or use other housing assistance programs such as hotel vouchers from social services or advocacy programs?
    • Do you want to call the police, obtain an order of protection or an emergency protective order?
  • If you are not planning to leave an abusive home/relationship:
    • Would you call the police if the perpetrator becomes violent? Is you couldn’t get to the phone, could you work out a signal with a neighbor to call for you and/or teach your children to call 911?
    • What kinds of strategies have worked in the past to minimize injuries? Do you think these strategies would continue to work for you?
    • Can you anticipate an escalation of violence and take any precautions?
    • Do you have a support network or friends or family that live nearby who could help you when you need assistance?
    • Are there weapons in the home? Can they be removed or placed in a safe locked area separate from the ammunition?
  • If the batterer has been removed from the home:
    • Consider safety measures such as changing the locks on the doors and windows, installing a security system, purchasing rope ladders, outdoor lighting sensitive to movement, smoke detectors and fire extinguisher, if affordable. It is important to teach children how to use the phone and make collect calls in case the perpetrator kidnaps them.
    • Make arrangements with schools and daycare centers to release children to designated persons.
    • Consider telling your neighbors, family and friends that he has left and to call 911 if he is seen around the house.
  • Preparing to leave:
    • Try to keep the following items in a safe place:
      • Keys (house and car)
      • Important papers: social security cards and birth certificates (for parent and children); photo ID/driver’s license; green cards.
      • Cash, food stamps, credit cards, checkbooks, etc.
      • Medication for parent and children, children’s immunization records. Spare set of clothes. Important phone numbers and addresses (friends, relatives, police, domestic violence shelter).
      • Loose change to make phone calls from pay phones.
  • Plan with your children. Identify a safe place for them: a room with a lock or a neighbor’s house where they can go, and reassure them that their job is to stay safe, not to protect you.
  • Consider arranging a signal with a neighbor to let them know when you need help.

It is important for victims of domestic violence to know that they are not alone.  There is help available to leave an abusive relation.

Remember:Domestic violence is not your fault.  No one deserves to be abused.  You are not alone. You can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE. Counselors there will listen, and can help you.

Sources: Sanctuary for Families. Safe Horizons. National Domestic Violence Hotline. Photo credit: Microsoft Clip Art

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