Safety Planning for Domestic Violence
At New Choices, Safety is Job 1.
Listed below are some thoughts to help you help to keep yourself & your children safe. Please contact an advocate to get a safety plan that is customized to your unique needs.
- Having important phone numbers programmed into your phone or on your person for you and your children. Numbers to have are the police, school, safe friends or family and 937-498-7261, our 24-hr crisis line. Be certain to choose only those whom you can trust not to inform your abuser of information about you, repeat what you are saying or reveal your whereabouts.
- Identify family, friends, coworkers and/or neighbors you trust to tell about the abuse & help protect you and your children. 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 and communicate it to anyone you may call in an emergency, including your children. A code word is something that you can say that will alert another person that they need to call 911 but choose a word that will not alert your abuser/batterer.
- How to get out of your home safely. Identify and practice ways to get out of every room in your home, include your children, call it a fire drill so as to not alert your abuser, if they are present.
- Safer places in your home where there are easily accessible exits and no weapons. If you feel abuse is going to happen or to escalate, try to get your abuser to one of these safer places and keep yourself near the exit, don’t allow your abuser to come between you & the exit.
- Weapons in the house - think about where they are and ways that you could get them out of the house without arousing suspicion.
- Even if you do not plan to leave, think of where you could go. Think of how you might leave – attempt to create opportunities to get away. Make a habit of doing things that get you out of the house like taking out the trash, walking the dog or going to the store.
- Put together a bag of things you use everyday (see the checklist below). Hide it where it is easy for you to get and can remain undetected by your abuser.
- Go over your safety plan often and share relevant parts of it with your children.
- Identify four safe places you could go if you leave your home try to select places that your abuser won’t instantly think of, a friend of a friend or come to shelter.
- People who might help you if you left - people who will keep a bag for you, people who might lend you money, people would who be willing to care for your pets.
- Keep your cellphone on you at all times, in a place your abuser cannot find & destroy it. If it is your abusers phone or on their plan, leave it behind as it can be used to track you. New Choices has cellphones you can borrow while you are in transition that are unknown to your abuser. Also keep change for payphones or getting a cell phone of your own.
- Open a bank account to squirrel money away in and/or get a credit card in your name but do not use it until it’s time so that statements do not start appearing & raise suspicion with your abuser.
- Consider when & how you will leave & practice it.
- Be sure to consider how to take your children with you safely. There are times when taking your children with you may put all of your lives in danger. In order to protect your children, you must be sure that you are also safe.
- Put together a bag of things you (and your children) use everyday and items that you will need during your transition. Hide it where it is easy for you to get to and where it won’t be discovered by your batterer/abuser
- Start early in moving things that are precious to you out of the house and into a place that is safe & secure that your partner cannot access. Batterers/abusers who sense that something is changing or fear that you may leave will start destroying things that are most precious to you and certainly if you leave they will destroy them. These things include pets, photographs, jewelry, heirlooms, childrens things, sentimental things that cannot be replaced. Of course, things are things and if you need to get out in a hurry, leave these but if you are making a plan, this is something to consider.
- Review and modify your safety plan often, know it by heart. Having a plan may help to calm & reassure you and help remove some of your fear.
- Money, Bankbooks & Credit Cards
- Keys to your car, house & work – you will want to make copies of your keys & keep them in the bag.
- Enough clothes for a day or two for you and your children, particularly socks & underclothes.
- Your childrens blanket, toys or items that will help them in transition
- Medications or prescriptions, eyeglasses & contacts
- Essential Paperwork such as:
- Birth Certificates for you and your children
- Social Security Cards
- Drivers License or ID
- Car Registration/Title/Proof of Insurance
- Food, Medical or Child Support Cards
- Passports, Green Cards or Work Permits
- Copy of Lease/Rental Agreement or Mortgage Payment Slip/Book
- Copy of or Record of Any Bills that are in Your Name (Water, Electric, Cable, Phone, etc.)
- Copies of T/CPO, Divorce Papers, Custody Orders
WARNING: When abusers feel a loss of control, like when they suspect their partner may leave, they may resort to desperate measures and become very dangerous.
Take special care when you leave or being making plans to. Call New Choices for help & guidance at all stages of your process, there may be other elements to consider that are not listed above or special conditions that we can assist with.