A personal safety plan is a way of helping you to protect yourself and your children. It helps you plan in advance for the possibility of future violence and abuse. It also helps you to think about how you can increase your safety either within the relationship, or if you decide to leave.
Can you stop your partner’s violence or abuse?
Unfortunately, only your partner can decide to not be violent or abusive. But there are things you can do to increase you own and your children’s safety. You’re probably already doing some things to protect yourself and your children – for example, there may be a pattern to the violence, which may enable you to plan ahead to increase your safety.
Call 941-627-6000 or 941-475-6465 and ask an advocate about…
- Filing for a free injunction for protection
- Helping you understand the legal system
- Free confidential counseling
- Moving away
- Staying at a free emergency domestic violence shelter or another safe place
WARNING: Abusers try to control their victim’s lives. When abusers feel a loss of control – like when victims try to leave them – the abuse often gets worse. Be cautious and prepared if you stay. Take special care if you leave. Keep being careful even if you have left. Please call us at 941-627-6000 or 941-475-6465 so we can help you form a safety plan.
- If someone is threatening you or your children, take their threat seriously
- Calls for assistance should be made from phones in safe locations
- Change your habits…choose different grocery stores, routes home, etc.
- Identify transportation options through friends, family, agencies and hotline
- Request confidentiality when working with agencies and churches
- Ask an advocate to help plan for safety
- Have a signal or safe word for help with trusted friends and neighbors
- Identify someone on the job who is most likely to help you if you are in danger. Decide if it is possible to use a signal for help
- Make a list of people you can count on during emergencies
- Learn about the possibility of your abuser monitoring your computer use
Safety Bag or “Escape Bag”: A safety bag is used when planning to leave a dangerous relationship. It should contain important items and information. It is best to keep the bag with someone you trust. That person should keep it safely hidden and not tell your abuser of your plans to leave.
Contents may include…
- Keys (spare set)
- Bank statements
- Birth certificates for you and your children
- Medicine, prescriptions and medical equipment
- Pictures of the family that include the abuser
- Proof of income: pay stubs, financial statements
- Partners personal information: date of birth, social security number, place of employment
- Health care information
- Money (if possible)
- Address book
If you are in an abusive relationship, think about…
- Having important phone numbers nearby for you and your children. Numbers to have are the police, hotlines, friends and the local shelter.
- Teaching your children how to call 911
- Friends or neighbors you could tell about the abuse. Ask them to call the police if they hear angry or violent noises. If you have children, teach them how to dial 911. Make up a code word that you can use when you need help.
- How to get out of your home safely. Practice ways to get out.
- Safer places in your home where there are exits and no weapons. If you feel abuse is going to happen try to get your abuser to one of these safer places.
- Any weapons in the house. Think about ways that you could get them out of the house.
- Even if you do not plan to leave, think of where you could go. Think of how you might leave. Try doing things that get you out of the house – taking out the trash, walking the pet or going to the store. Put together a bag of things you use everyday. Hide it where it is easy for you to get.
- Going over your safety plan often.
If you are considering leaving your abuser, think about…
- Four places you could immediately go if you leave your home (a gas station, a friend, a neighbor, family, our shelter at CARE, etc.
- People who might help you if you left. Think about people who will keep a bag for you. Think about people who might lend you money. Make a plan for your pets (at CARE we have a pet program, where your pets can receive foster care).
- Keeping change for phone calls or getting a cell phone (call and ask us about our Cell Phone Program).
- Opening a bank account or getting a credit card in your name.
- How you might leave, try doing things that get you out of the house – taking out the trash, walking the family pet, or going to the store. Practice how you would leave.
- How you could take your children away safely. There are times when taking your children with you may put all of your lives in danger. You need to protect yourself to be able to protect your children.
- Putting together a bag of things you use everyday. Hide it where it is easy for you to get, but where your abuser won’t find it. Having a friend or family member hold on to your “escape bag” may be a good idea for you if you don’t have a good spot for it.
- Think about reviewing your safety plan often.
If you have left your abuser, think about…
- Your safety – you still need to think about that.
- Not placing yourself in vulnerable situations or isolating yourself.
- Avoiding places you used to frequent when you were still together.
- Altering your routine and routs as much as you can.
- Changing any regular appointments that your abuser may know about (with a counselor, nail salon, etc.)
- Avoiding using shared credit cards or debit cards that the abuser may use to track you.
- Changing your number.
- Blocking your number if you need to contact your abuser.
- Getting a cell phone. We at CARE have a Cell Phone Program with phones that are programmed to only call 911. These phones are for when you need to call the police and cannot get to any other phone.
- Getting a OFP (Order for Protection) from the court. Keep a copy with you at all times. Give a copy to the police, people who take care of your children, your children’s school and your boss.
- Changing the locks. Consider putting stronger doors, smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, a security system and outside lights on where you are staying.
- Telling a friend and neighbors that your abuser no longer lives with you. Ask them to call police if they see your abuser near your home.
- Telling people who take care of your children the names of people who are allowed to pick them up. If you have a OFP protecting your children, give their teachers and babysitters a copy of it.
- Telling someone at work about what has happened. Ask that person to screen your calls. If you have a OFP, that includes where you work. Consider giving you boss a copy of your OFP and a picture of your abuser just to be safe.
- Practicing a safety plan for your workplace. For instance how you go about going to and from work, how you get to your car, etc.
- Something that can call if you feel down. Call that person if you are thinking about going to a support group or workshop.
- Safe way to speak with your abuser if you must
- Going over your safety plan often
C.A.R.E. Inc. is pleased to provide or facilitate accommodations, including American Sign Language interpreters, assistive listening devices, and alternative formats of printed materials, upon request from persons who are Deaf, Hard of Hearing or are living with disabilities. Please request appropriate assistance from any of our staff.