Safety Planning

Safety During an Incident

  • Identify areas of the home where there are no weapons and ways to escape. If arguments occur, try to move to those areas.
  • Don't run to where the children are as your partner may hurt them as well.
  • If violence is unavoidable, make yourself into a small object; dive into a corner and curl up into a ball with your face protected and arms around each side of your head, fingers entwined.
  • If possible, have a phone accessible at all times and know the numbers to call for help.
  • When calling 911, if unable to give a report, set the phone down and they may be able to track the call.
  • Let trusted friends and neighbors know of your situation and develop a plan and visual signal for when you need help.
  • Teach your children how to get hlep. Instruct them not to get involved in the violence between you and your partner. Plan a code word to signal to them that they should get help or leave the home.
  • Tell your children that they are not at fault, nor did they cause the violence, and when anyone is being violent, it is important to keep safe.
  • Practice how to get out safely for yourself and also include your children.
  • Keep guns and knives locked up and as inacceessible as possible
  • Make a habit of backing the car into the driveway, keeping the gas tank full, and if possible, depending on your situation, keep the driver's door unlocked for a quick getaway.
  • Try not to wear scarves or long jewelry that could be used to strangle you
  • Create several plausible reasons for leaving the house at different times of the day or night. Periodically call your domestic violence shelter or advocate to assess your options and get a supportive understanding ear.

When Getting Ready to Leave

When getting ready to leave an abusive relationship, and after leaving, it is important to note that this is the most dangerous time for survivors. It is important to make connections with family and friends so that you have a supportive, safe system in place to help you through this process.


  • Keep any evidence of physical abuse such as pictures, in a readily available, safe place
  • Know where you can go to get help and tell someone what is happening to you.
  • If you are injured, go to the doctor or an emergency room and report what happened to you. Ask that they document your visit.
  • Plan with your children and identify a safe place for them (a room with a lock, friends house etc), where they can go when things begin to escalate. Reassure them that their job is to stay safe, not to protect you.
  • Contact your local crisis center and find out about the laws and other resources available to you before you have to use them.
  • Keep a journal documenting all the violent incidences, noting dates, events, and threats made if possible. Make sure that you place the journal in a safe place such as a friends house or somewhere readily available, but where the abuser will not find it.
  • Try to set money aside or ask friends or family members to hold money for you.

General Guidelines for Leaving an Abusive Relationship

When leaving it is important to be prepared:


  • Plan for a quick escape
  • Put money aside for an emergency if you can
  • Hide an extra set of car keys
  • Pack an extra set of clothes for yourself and your children and store them at a trusted friend or neghbor's house. Try to avoid using next-door neighbors, close family members, and mutual friends because this will be the first place your partner willl look.


Take with you:

  • Important phone numbers
  • Driver's license
  • Social security cards for yourself and your children
  • Medications
  • List of credit cards held by yourself or jointly, or the credit cards themselves if you have access
  • Pay stubs for yourself and your partner
  • Checkbooks, information about bank accounts, savings and other assets.
  • Citizenship documents such as passport, green card etc.

If time is available also take:

  • Titles, deeds, and other property information
  • Medical records
  • Children's school and immunization records
  • Insurance information
  • Copy of marriage license, birth certificates, will, and other legal documents
  • Welfare identification
  • Valued pictures, jewelry, or personal possessions