Create a Domestic Violence Safety Plan
Get Help: Call Our Free Anonymous Domestic Violence Hotline: 800.621.HOPE (4673)
If you're in a violent or abusive relationship, what can you do to keep yourself safe?
For some survivors of domestic violence, developing a plan ahead of time is helpful to have in the event of another violent episode or when they feel emotionally overwhelmed. A plan may be helpful when it is hard to think clearly in the middle of a crisis. Each survivor's situation is unique, so every safety plan is different. And a good safety plan changes over time, as your situation changes.
Here are some ideas that you can consider, strategies that other survivors may have included in their plans. These ideas do not cover every possible scenario; and you may find that some may or may not work for you. It is your decision whether to make a safety plan, and what to include if you do make one. It may help to speak with a with expertise in domestic violence. You should also consider where you can safety keep this plan so your abuser does not have access to it.
Safety Strategies to Consider:
Talk with people you trust such as friends, family, neighbors and co-workers. Let them know what is happening and talk about ways they might be able to help.
Consider what you might do to increase safety during an argument or if you can tell abuse is coming. For example, some rooms in your home may be safer than others. Some survivors try to move away from the kitchen because it has knives and other many sharp objects. Some survivors try to stay close to a door, so they could run if they needed to.
Memorize the numbers you might need to use in an emergency, like 911, a friend’s or family member’s number, or the local hotline. In New York City, you can get to Safe Horizon’s Domestic Violence Hotline by calling 311. Keep in mind that the person hurting you could take your cell phone from you, so memorizing numbers or keeping a list of numbers somewhere safe may be helpful.
Plan how you would escape if you needed to. If you live in an apartment building, make sure you know all the ways out of the building. Consider what routes you could take to get to transportation, and where you could go to get to safety. You could learn how to get to a local police station, fire department, hospital emergency room, or 24-hour store. You might want to identify a route to the subway that is different from your usual route, and plan to use that in an emergency.
Consider talking with your children about safety. Some survivors teach their children how to call 911, or talk with them about a neighbor’s home or place in the community that may be a safe place to go in an emergency.
Prepare an emergency bag. You may want to put together a bag that includes money, copies of house and car keys, medicine, and copies of important papers such as birth certificates, social security cards, immigration documents, court orders, and health insurance information. The bag could also include extra clothes, important phone numbers, or other things you might need if you had to leave your home in a hurry. If you prepare an emergency bag, you may be able to keep it at a trusated friend’s or family member’s home.
If you have decided to prepare an emergency bag, and have a place in mind where you can safely keep it, here is a checklist to help you decide what to put in the bag.
- House keys
- Car keys
- Order of Protection
- ATM card
- Money/cab fare
- Credit card
- Green card
- Work permit
- Public Assistance ID
- Mobile phone/coins to use in a payphone
- Driver's license & registration
- Social security card
- Your partner’s social security number
- Medical records
- Address book
- Insurance policies
- Important legal documents
- Police records • Record of violence
- Baby’s things (diapers, formula, medication)
- Children’s school and immunization records
- Birth certificates
- Non-perishable snacks for you and your children (e.g. juice and crackers)
- Important phone numbers including the Safe Horizon Domestic Violence Hotline: 800.621.HOPE (4673) (If you are not in New York City, call the national hotline at 800.799.SAFE (7233)
Make a plan for times when you are at work. In New York City, the law requires employers to make reasonable efforts to help survivors of domestic violence who work for them. You may want to speak with your employer about changing work locations or hours, or alerting security or reception staff to your situation.