Creating a Safety Plan

This is a model plan to prepare for the possibility for future violence. Although victims do not have control over their partner’s violence, they can choose how to respond to him/her, and how best to get to safety.

STEP 1: Safety during a violent incident.

Battered men and women cannot always avoid violent incidents. In order to increase safety, they may use a variety of strategies.

I can use some (or all) of the following strategies:

  • If I decide to leave, I will ____________________. (Practice how to get out safely. What doors, windows, elevators, stairwells or fire escapes would you use?)
  • I can keep my purse/wallet and car keys ready, and put them (place)____________________ in order to leave quickly.
  • I can tell ___________________ about the violence and request that they call the police if they hear suspicious 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 use ____________________ as my code for my children or my friends so they can call for help.
  • If I have to leave home, I will go ____________________. (Decide this even if you don’t think there will be a next time.) If I cannot go to the location above, then I can go to __________________or _________________.
  • I can also teach some of these strategies to some/all of my children.
  • When I expect we are going to have an argument, 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 access to an outside door.)
  • I will use my judgment and intuition. If the situation is very serious, I can give my partner what he/she wants to calm him/her down. I have to protect myself until I/we are out of danger.

STEP 2. Safety when preparing to leave.

Battered men and women frequently leave the residence they share with the battering partner. Leaving must be done with a careful plan in order to increase safety. Batterers often strike back when they believe that a battered partner is leaving the relationship.

I can use some (or all) of the following safety strategies:

  • I will leave money and an extra set of keys with ____________________, so that I can leave quickly.
  • I will keep copies of important documents or keys at ____________________.
  • I will open a savings account by ____________________, to increase my independence.
  • The House of Ruth domestic violence program hotline number is (410) 889-7884, and I can seek shelter by calling this hotline.
  • I can keep change for phone calls on me at all times. I understand that if I use my telephone credit card, the following month the telephone bill will tell my batterer the numbers that I called after I left. To keep my telephone communications confidential, I must either use coins or I might get a friend to permit me to use their telephone credit card for a limited time when I first leave.
  • I will check with ____________________ and ____________________ to see who would be able let me stay with them or lend me some money.
  • I can leave extra clothes with ____________________.
  • I will sit down and review my safety plan every ____________________ in order to plan the safest way to leave the residence. ____________________ (domestic violence advocate or friend) has agreed to help me review this plan.
  • I will rehearse my escape plan. I will practice it with my children when appropriate.

STEP 3: Safety in my own residence.

There are many things that a battered man or woman can do to increase safety in his/her own residence. It may be impossible to do everything at once. But safety measures can be added step by step.
 
I can use some (or all) of the following safety strategies:

  • I can change the locks on my doors and windows as soon as possible.
  • I can replace wooden doors with steel/metal doors.
  • I can install security systems, including additional locks, window bars, poles to wedge against doors, electronic systems, etc.
  • I can purchase rope ladders to be used for escape from second floor windows.
  • I can install smoke detectors and purchase fire extinguishers for each floor in my house/apartment.
  • I can install an outside lighting system that lights up when a person is coming close to my house.
  • I will teach my children how to use the telephone to make a collect call to me, and to ____________________ (friends/minister/other) in the event my partner takes the children.
  • I will tell people who take care of my children which people have permission to pick up my children, and that my partner is not permitted to do so. The people I will inform about pickup permission include:  
    • ________________________________________ (School),
    • ________________________________________ (Daycare staff),
    • ________________________________________ (Baby-sitter),
    • ________________________________________ (Sunday school teacher),
    • ________________________________________ (Teacher), and
    • ________________________________________ (others)
  • I can inform _____________________ (neighbors), ____________________ (pastor), and ____________________(friend) that my partner no longer resides with me and they should call the police if my partner is observed near my residence.

STEP 4: Safety with a Protective Order

Many abusers obey protective orders, but one can never be sure which abusers will obey, and which will not. I recognize that I may need to ask the police and the court to enforce my protective order.
 
The following are some steps that I can take to help the enforcement of the protective order:

  • Always keep a copy of the order with you. If you change purses, that’s the first thing that should go in.
  • I will also keep a copy of my Protective Order ___________________ (location) next to my telephone in case I need to call the police. I will give my protective order to the police department in the communities where I usually visit family or friends, and in the community where I live.
  • I will inform my employer, my minister, my closest friend and ____________________, and __________________ that I have a protective order in effect.
  • If my partner destroys my protective order, I can get another copy by going to the District or Circuit Court Civil Clerk’s office, depending on which court issued my order.
  • If my partner violates the protective order, I can call the police and report a violation, contact my attorney, call my advocate, and/or advise the court of the violation.
  • If the police do not help, I can contact my advocate or attorney and he or she will assist me with getting help.
  • I can also file a criminal complaint with the District Court commissioner in the jurisdiction where the violation occurred. I can charge my battering partner with a violation of the Protective Order, as well as all the crimes that he/she commits in violating the order. I can call the domestic violence advocate to help me with this.

STEP 5: Safety on the job and in public.

You must decide if and when you will tell others about the abusive partner, and that you may be at continued risk. Friends, family and co-workers can help to protect you.  You should consider carefully which persons to invite to help secure your safety.
 
I might do any (or all) of the following:

  • I can inform my boss, the security supervisor and ____________________ at work of my situation.
  • I can ask ____________________ to help screen my telephone calls at work.
  • When leaving work, I can _______________________________________________________________________________________________
  • When driving home, if problems occur, I can _______________________________________________________________________________________________
  • If I use public transportation, I can _______________________________________________________________________________________________
  • I will go to different grocery stores and shopping malls to conduct my business, and shop at hours different from those I used when residing with my batterering partner.
  • I can use a different bank and take care of my banking at hours different from those I used when residing with my battering partner.
  • I can also _______________________________________________________________.

STEP 6: Safety and drug or alcohol use.

Most people in this culture use alcohol. Many use mind-altering drugs. Much of this use is legal, and some is not. The legal outcomes of using illegal drugs can be very hard on a battered individual. It may hurt your relationship with your children. Drug use can put you at a disadvantage in other legal actions with a battering partner. Therefore, you should carefully consider the potential cost of the use of illegal drugs. Even more important, alcohol or other drug use can reduce your awareness and ability to act quickly to protect yourself from a battering partner. Alcohol or other drug use by the batterer may give him/her an excuse to use violence. You need to make specific safety plans about drug and alcohol use.

If drug and alcohol use has occurred in my relationship with the battering partner, I can enhance my safety by some or all of the following:

  • If I am going to use, I can do so in a safe place and with people who understand the risk of violence, and are committed to my safety.
  • I can also _______________________________________________________________.
  • If my partner is using, I can ________________________________________________.
  • I might also _____________________________________________________________.
  • To safeguard my children, I might ___________________________________________     ______________________________ and _____________________________________.

STEP 7: Safety and my emotional health.

The experience of being battered and verbally degraded by partners is usually exhausting and emotionally draining. The process of building a new life for yourself takes a great deal of courage and incredible energy.
 
To conserve my emotional energy and resources and to avoid hard emotional times, I can do some of the following:

  • If I feel down and ready to return to a potentially abusive situation, I can _____________________________________________________________.
  • When I have to communicate with my partner in person or by telephone, I can _________________________________________________________.
  • I can try to use "I can . . . " statements with myself and to be assertive with others.
  • I can tell myself, "_________________________________________________________ ___________________________" whenever I feel others are trying to control or abuse me.
  • I can read ______________________________________________________ to help me feel stronger.
  • I can call ____________________, ____________________ and ___________________ as other resources to be of support to me.
  • Other things I can do to help me feel stronger are: ________________, ______________, _________________________ and _______________________.
  • I can attend workshops and support groups at a domestic violence program, or _______ ____________________ or _______________________ to gain support and strengthen my relationships with other people.

STEP 8: Items to take when leaving.

I will use the Checklist to plan my possible leaving. I will keep this document in a safe place and out of the reach of my abuser.

Is this legal advice?

This site offers legal information, not legal advice.  We make every effort to ensure the accuracy of the information and to clearly explain your options.  However we do not provide legal advice - the application of the law to your individual circumstances. For legal advice, you should consult an attorney.  The Maryland State Law Library, a court-related agency of the Maryland Judiciary, sponsors this site.  In the absence of file-specific attribution or copyright, the Maryland State Law Library may hold the copyright to parts of this website. You are free to copy the information for your own use or for other non-commercial purposes with the following language “Source: Maryland's People’s Law Library – www.peoples-law.org. © Maryland State Law Library, 2013.”