There are many obstacles to achieving safety or to ending a relationship with a violent partner, and the choices you confront are not risk-free.
Decisions that are beneficial in the long run, such as leaving the batterer or obtaining a protective order, can actually increase immediate danger for you and your children. Safety planning is the process of evaluating the risks and benefits of different options and identifying ways to reduce risks. To develop a safety plan, fill in the blanks below, as you see fit. It is important to consider all of the information for your safety.
Things to consider when you are planning to leave:
- If I decide to leave, I will __________________________________________. (Practice how to get out safely. What doors, windows, elevators, stairwells or fire escapes could you use?)
- I can keep my purse and car keys ready and put them _____________ in order to leave quickly.
- I will leave money and an extra set of keys with _________________ so I can leave quickly.
- I will keep copies of important documents or keys at _____________________.
- If I have to leave my home, I will go ____________________.
- If I cannot go to the above location, I can go __________________________________.
- The domestic violence hotline number is _____________. I can call it if I need shelter.
- If it is not safe to talk openly, I will use ______________ as the code word/signal to my children that we are going to go, or to my family or friends that we are coming.
- I can leave extra clothes with ___________________.
Use your judgment:
- When I expect my partner and I are going to argue, I will try to move to a space that is lowest risk, such as _________. (Try to avoid arguments in the bathroom, garage, kitchen, near weapons, or in rooms without an outside exit.)
- I will use my judgment and intuition. If the situation is very serious, I can give my partner what he wants to try and calm him down. I have to protect myself until I/we are out of danger.
- I can also teach some of these strategies to some/all of my children, as appropriate.
- I will keep important numbers and a cell phone or phone card with me at all times. I know that my partner can learn whom I've been talking to by looking at phone bills, so I can see if friends will let me use their phones and/or their phone credit cards if necessary.
- I will check with ___________and _______________ to see who would be able to let me stay with them or lend me money, if I need it.
- I can increase my independence by opening a bank account and getting credit cards in my own name; taking classes or getting job skills; getting copies of all the important papers and documents I might need and keeping them with __________________.
- Other things I can do to increase my independence include: ________________________________________________.
- I can rehearse my escape plan and, if appropriate, practice it with my children.
- If I have a joint bank account with my partner, I can make arrangements to ensure I will have access to money.
Know how to get help:
- I can tell _________________ about the violence and request that they call the police if they hear noises coming from my house.
- I can teach my children how to use the telephone to contact the police and the fire department. I will make sure they know the address.
- If I have a programmable phone, I can program emergency numbers and teach my children how to use the auto dial.
- I will use _______________ as my code word with my children or my friends so they will call for help.
Things to consider when you leave:
- I can enhance the locks on my doors and windows.
- I can replace wooden doors with steel/metal doors.
- I can install security systems including additional locks, window bars, poles to wedge against doors, an electronic system, etc.
- I can purchase rope ladders to be used for escape from second floor windows.
- I can install smoke detectors and put fire extinguishers on each floor in my home.
- I will teach my children how to use the phone to call me if they are concerned about their safety.
- I can tell people who take care of my children which people have permission to pick them up and make sure they know how to recognize those people.
- I will give the people who take care of my children copies of custody and protective orders, and emergency numbers.
Things to consider at work and in public:
- I can inform security, my supervisor and/or the Employee Assistance Program about my situation. Phone numbers to have at work are _______.
- I can ask __________________to screen my calls at work or have my phone number changed.
- When leaving work, I can ______ ____________________________.
- When traveling to and from work, if there is trouble, I can__________.
- I can ask for a flexible schedule.
- I can ask for a parking space closer to the building.
- I can ask to move my workspace to a safer location.
- I can ask security to escort me to and from my car.
- I can change my patterns to avoid places where my partner might find me, such as ______________________, (stores, banks, laundromats).
- I can tell ______________ and ____________________ that I am no longer with my partner and ask them to call the police if they believe my children or I are in danger.
- I can explore the option of telecommuting with my supervisor and human resources office.
Things to consider when you have a Personal Protection Order:
- I will keep my protection order_________, where I know it will be safe.
- I will give copies of my protection order to police departments in the community in which I live and those where I visit friends and family.
- I will give copies to my employer, my religious advisor, my closest friend, my children's school and day care center and____________.
- If my partner destroys my protection order or if I lose it, I can get another copy from the court that issued it.
- If my partner violates the order, I can call the police and report a violation, contact my attorney, call my advocate, and/or advise the court of the violation.
- I can call a domestic violence program if I have questions about how to enforce an order or if I have problems getting it enforced.
Items to take when you are leaving:
- Identification for myself
- Children's birth certificates
- My birth certificate
- Social Security cards
- School/vaccination records
- Money, checkbook, bankbooks, cash cards
- Credit cards
- Medication/prescription cards
- Keys house, car, office
- Driver's license/car registration
- Insurance papers
- Public Assistance ID/Medicaid Cards
- Passports, work permits
- Divorce or separation papers
- Lease, rental agreement or house deed
- Car/mortgage payment book
- Children's toys, security blankets, stuffed animals
- Sentimental items, photos
- My Personalized Safety Plan
The UM Department of Public Safety is available to consult about safety planning.