Creating a Safety Plan and Preparing to Use It

Domestic Violence, Resources, SAAM, Safety

Written by Lela Devries


Take the steps in knowing how you can get to a safe place before and during a violent situation

Safety plans serve as an essential guide to find respite in a violent situation. It’s important that you develop this resource and keep it in a safe place where it can only be accessible to you. This safety plan should outline actions that are customized to your situation and need to reflect various areas of consideration such as your physical safety, emotional safety, financial safety, and any legal necessities.

Let’s breakdown some of the key planning points you can utilize in your safety planning arrangements:

 Before the Situation
• Create an emergency bag for yourself (and your kids if applicable) that includes essentials like money, an extra set of keys, important documents, and clothes. Then keep the bag at a trusted friend or relative’s house for safekeeping or choose a carefully selected hiding spot in your home.
• Introduce a secret “safe word or phrase” that can be used to communicate when you need immediate help and teach it to your kids. This can be extremely helpful, especially if communicating with texts or on social media.
• Ensure everyone knows how and when to call 9-1-1.
• Familiarize yourself with every door, window, staircase, elevator, and fire escape in your area so you can quickly and safely get out.
• Notify trusted neighbors to be alert if they see or hear suspicious activity.
• Practice, Practice, Practice!

During the Situation
• Use your judgement and do what is needed to keep you and your family safe. Call 9-1-1 at the earliest opportunity and get out.
• Grab your emergency bag (if it is at home) and quickly get to your car. (*Consider parking your car in a position where you can drive away quickly because every second matters.)
• Seek shelter at a close friend’s house, home of a family member, or community shelter as quickly as possible. (*In your practice and preparation stages- think about the quickest routes to your destination or unusual routes where the attacker may not suspect where you are going)

Using Awareness In Public
• Speak to your supervisor at work about your situation. Talk with security personnel and any of your trusted work colleagues who can offer support to you.
• Consider asking your employer to screen calls of your work phone for data security.
• Be vigilant in your normal routines and activities- consider shopping at different stores, take different routes home, or consider using public transportation if possible.
• Get assistance in creating a new bank account at a different bank where you can start clean slate, and no one will have access except you.
• Keep all emergency contact information easily accessible on your phone- add STOPDVSA to your speed dial list: 1-800-270-1620

Take every opportunity to develop your own customized safety plan so that you know what to do and where to go when your situation escalates out of control. If you need help in organizing and creating a safety plan for you and your family, please contact our advocates who are available 24/7 to assist. You can chat with them online right now or call our free hotline at 1-800-270-1620.

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