Safety Plan for Domestic Violence Survivors
For domestic violence survivors, ensuring their immediate and continuous safety is a top concern. This is because on average, 24 people per minute are victims of rape, physical violence or stalking by an intimate partner in the United States — more than 12 million women and men over the course of a year.1 Creating a safety plan is an accessible way to manage risk factors, identify security resources and collaborate with a Safe Horizon advocate to increase your overall well-being.
What is a Safety Plan?
A safety plan is an outline that includes ways to remain safe while in a relationship, planning to leave, or after you leave. Creating a personalized safety plan encompasses how to cope with emotions, telling friends and family about the abuse, and the steps to be taken in the event of legal action. An effective safety plan will have specific details tailored to your unique situation. It is important to remember that in moments of panic, your brain may not remember even the simplest of details due to the large amount of adrenaline pumping through your veins — so creating a safety plan in advance will give you protection during these stressful moments.
Create a Safety Plan Checklist
Create a safety plan checklist to ensure that essential steps to find safety in dangerous situations are being followed. Checklists help avoid distractions by compelling you to create the tasks that are only on the checklist, and they save time because the steps are written in order and are easy to follow.
Consider these questions when developing your own safety plan:
✔ Are you able to confide in a trusted source — a friend, family member, or neighbor?
✔ Is it possible to avoid areas or locations that make you feel unsafe?
✔ Where in your neighborhood could you go during an emergency?
✔ Is there a list of phone numbers you need to memorize in the event of a crisis?
✔ Do you have children to include in your safety plan?
✔ Do your children know where to go in case they witness violence?
✔ Do you need to have a safety plan in place for work or school?
✔ Is your safety plan stored on a computer or smartphone?
Ensuring Domestic Violence Survivor Safety During COVID-19
During the COVID-19 pandemic, governments have ordered residents to stay home to halt the spread of infection. For domestic violence victims, however, home is often a dangerous place because of the need to stay in close quarters with an abusive individual. Currently, growing unemployment rates and increased anxiety and financial stress have increased the domestic violence crisis. Many victims find themselves isolated in violent homes, without access to resources or friend and family networks.
Consider these questions when developing your own COVID-19 safety plan:
✔ Practice self-care in a way that works for you; focus on being gentle with yourself.
✔ When social distancing, create a space for “social support” and reach out to friends online.
✔ Identify potential triggers and a place you can feel safe if an argument happens.
✔ If unable to stay home with children, find a caregiver you trust.
✔ Create an exit plan with an advocate or someone you trust, in case you need to leave in an emergency.