Safety First! That’s what everyone says, but what does that mean when you are in a relationship where you feel threatened? Safety means different things to different people depending on their situation. Physical safety is often the focus of an initial safety plan, but what about unsafe boundaries? Sometimes safety planning for how to to handle a situation can empower a survivor to feel safer in their day to day life, reducing stress.
Safety Planning 101:
Developed by Kansas Coalition Against Sexual and Domestic Violence 4-11
Safety planning helps develop tools in advance of potentially dangerous situations. Choose only the suggestions listed here that make sense for your situation.
SAFETY DURING AN EXPLOSIVE INCIDENT
Go to an area that has an exit. Not a bathroom (near hard surfaces), kitchen (knives), or near weapons.
Stay in a room with a phone.
Call 911, a friend, or a neighbor, if necessary. Inform them if there are weapons in the home.
Know your escape route.
Practice how to get out of your home safely. Visualize your escape route.
Have a packed bag ready.
Keep it hidden in a handy place in order to leave quickly, or leave the bag elsewhere if the abuser searches your home.
Devise a code word or signal for your children, grandchildren, or neighbors so you can communicate to them that you need the police.
Know where you’re going.
Plan where you will go if you have to leave home, even if you don’t think you’ll need to.
Trust your judgment.
Consider anything that you feel will keep you safe and give you time to figure out what to do next. Sometimes it is best to flee and sometimes it is best to appease the abuser – anything that works to protect yourself and the children.
SAFETY WHEN PREPARING TO LEAVE
LEAVING CAN BE THE MOST DANGEROUS TIME!
Have a safe place to stay.
Make sure it is a place that can protect you and your children or grandchildren.
Call a domestic violence victim service program (SOS).
Find out which services and shelters are available as options if you need them. Keep their address and phone number close at hand at all times.
Find someone you trust.
Open a savings account. Put it in your name only. Consider direct deposit from your paycheck or benefit check.
Concerns about immigration status?
You may qualify under a law called the Violence Against Women Act. Talk to an immigration expert (not Immigration and Customs Enforcement) or your local sexual and domestic violence program (see “Kansas Sexual and Domestic Violence Program Numbers”) for more information.
IF YOU DECIDE TO LEAVE, TAKE WITH YOU…
Marriage and Driver’s licenses
Birth certificates – yours and family’s
Money, checkbooks, credit cards, ATM cards, mortgage payment book, car title
Social Security card, work permit, green card, passport, visa
Divorce, custody papers and protection order
Insurance papers and medical records
Lease, rental agreement and/or house deed
School and health records
Keys – house, car, office, friend’s
Medications, glasses, hearing aids needed by you and your family
Personal items – address book, pictures, toys
Copies of your spouse?s green card or social security card and all immigration related documents
SAFETY IN YOUR OWN HOME (If the abuser does not live with you)
Upgrade your security system.
Change the locks on doors and windows. Consider a security service, window bars, better lighting, smoke detectors, and fire extinguishers.
Have a safety plan.
Teach your children or grandchildren how to call the police or someone they can trust. Have a secret code word that you and your children agree on to communicate trouble and for the people who are allowed to pick up the children.
Change your phone number.
Screen your calls if you have an answering machine or caller ID. Save all messages with threats or that violate any orders. Contact your local phone company about getting an unpublished number.
Talk to neighbors and landlord.
Inform them that the abuser no longer lives with you and that they should call the police if they see the abuser near your home.
Get legal advice.
Find a lawyer knowledgeable about domestic violence to explore custody, visitation, and divorce options that may protect you and the children. Discuss getting a protection order as an option.
The abuser may be mandated to a batterers’ intervention program. Talk with the program to find out more about potential risks to you while the abuser participates. Additionally, contact your local sexual and domestic violence program (SOS) for more information.
SAFETY AND EMOTIONAL HEALTH
Call SOS or attend a women’s or victims’ support group to gain support from others and learn more about yourself and the relationship with the abuser.
Do what is safe for you.
If you have to communicate with the abuser, arrange to do so in a way that makes you feel safe – whether by phone, mail, or in the company of another person.
SAFETY AND YOUR CHILDREN
Tell schools and childcare providers.
Let them know who has permission to pick up the children. Discuss with them other special provisions to protect you and your children. Provide a picture of the abuser, if necessary.
Exchange child/ren in a safe place.
Find a safe place to exchange the children for visitation. Contact SOS Child Visitation and Exchange Center for more information: 620-342-0076
YOU AND YOUR CHILDREN DESERVE TO BE SAFE!
SAFETY ON THE JOB
Decide who at work you will inform of your situation, especially if you have a Protection From Abuse Order (PFA). This may include office security, if available. Provide a picture of the abuser, if necessary. You can request confidentiality from those you disclose to.
Screen your calls.
Arrange to have someone screen and log your telephone calls, if necessary.
Create a safety plan for when you enter and leave your work place. Have someone escort you to your vehicle or other transportation.
If you and the abuser work at the same place, discuss with your supervisor your options regarding scheduling, safety precautions, and employee/family benefits.
Contact SOS to receive additional information about workplace safety.
In an Emergency, Call 911
For support, contact: 800-825-1295, 620-342-1870