Personalized Safety Plan
The following steps represent my plan for increasing my safety and preparing in advance for the possibility of further violence. Although I do not have control over my partner's violence, I do have a choice about how to respond to him/her and how to best get myself and my children to safety.
Step 1: Safety during a violent incident.
Women cannot always avoid violent incidents. In order to increase safety, battered women may use a variety of strategies.
I can use some or all of the following strategies.
A. If I decide to leave, I will___________________________________________________________. (Practice how to leave safely. What doors, windows, elevators, stairwells, or fire escapes would you use?)
B. I can keep my purse and car keys ready and put them (where) _____________________________ in order to leave quickly.
C. I can tell _________________________about the violence and request they call the police if they hear suspicious noises coming from my home.
I can also tell_________________________________________________.
D. I can teach my children how to use the telephone to contact the police and the fire department.
E. I will use _____________________________as my code word/phrase with my children or my friends so they can call for help.
F. If I have to leave my home, I will go ________________________________________. (Decide this even if you don't think there will be a next time.)
If I cannot go there, then I can go to_________________________, or_________________________, or _____________________________.
G. I can also teach some of these strategies to some/all of my children.
H. When I expect we are going to have an argument, I will try to move to a space with the lowest risk such as_________________________________. (Try to avoid arguments in the bathroom, garage, kitchen, near weapons, or in rooms without access to an outside door.)
I. I will use my judgment and intuition. If the situation is very serious, I can give my partner what he/she wants to calm him/her down. I have to protect myself until I/we are out of danger.
Step 2: Safety when preparing to leave.
Battered women frequently leave the residence they share with the battering partner. Leaving must be done with a careful plan in order to increase safety. Batterers often strike back when they believe that a battered woman is leaving a relationship.
I can use some or all of the following safety strategies:
A. I will leave money and an extra set of keys with______________________________ so I can leave quickly.
B. I will keep copies of important documents or keys at_________________________________________.
C. I will open a savings account by __________________________________________, to increase my independence.
D. Other things I can do to increase my independence include:____________________________________
E. The domestic violence program's hotline number is 918-7HELP-ME. I can seek shelter by calling this hotline.
F. I can keep change for phone calls on me at all times. I understand that if I use my telephone credit card, the following month the telephone bill will tell my batterer the numbers I called after I left. To keep my telephone calls confidential, I must either use coins or I might get a friend to permit me to use their telephone credit card for a limited time when I first leave.
G. I will check with _________________________________ and _____________________________ to see who would be able to let me stay with them or lend me some money.
H. I can leave extra clothes with______________________________________________.
I. I will sit down and review my safety plan every____________________________ in order to plan the safest way to leave the residence. __________________________________(domestic abuse advocate or friend) has agreed to help me review this plan.
J. I will rehearse my escape plan and, as appropriate, practice it with my children.
Step 3: Safety in my own residence.
There are many things a woman can do to increase her safety in her own residence. It may be possible to do
everything at once, but safety measures can be added step by step.
Safety measures I can use include:
A. I can change the locks on my doors and windows as soon as possible.
B. I can replace wooden doors with steel/metal doors.
C. I can install security systems including additional locks, window bars, poles to wedge against doors, and electronic system, etc.
D. I can purchase rope ladders to be used for escape from second floor windows.
E. I can install smoke detectors and purchase fire extinguishers for each floor in my house/apartment.
F. I can install an outside lighting system that lights up when a person is coming close to my house.
G. I will teach my children how to use the telephone to make a collect call to me and to _______________________________(friend/other) in the event that my partner takes the children.
H. I will tell the people who take care of my children which people have permission to pick up my children and that my partner is not permitted to do so. The people I will inform about pick up permission include:
__________________________________________________(day care staff)
I. I can inform _____________________________________(neighbor) and __________________________(friend) that my partner no longer resides with me and they should call the police if he/she is observed near my residence.
Step 4: Safety with a protection order.
Many batterers obey protection orders, but one can never be sure which violent partner will obey and which violate protection orders. I recognize that I may need to ask the police and the courts to enforce my protection order.
The following are some steps I can take to help the enforcement of my protection order:
A. I will keep my protection order ___________________________________(location). (Always keep it on or near your person. If you change purses that's the first thing that should go in.
B. I will give my protection order to police departments in the community where I work, in those communities where I usually visit family or friends, and in the community where I live.
C. There should be a county registry of protection orders that all police departments can call to confirm a protection order. I can check to make sure that my protection order is on the registry. The telephone number for the county registry of protection orders is_________________________________.
D. For further safety, if I often visit other counties in my state, I might file my protection order in those counties. I will register my protection order in the following counties: ____________________________, _____________________________, and ____________________________________.
E. I can call the local domestic violence program if I am not sure about B, C, or D above or if I have some problem with my protection order.
F. I will inform my employer, my closest friend, and _________________________ and _______________________ that I have a protection order in effect.
G. If my partner destroys my protection order, I can get another copy from the courthouse by going to the Court Clerk's office located at_____________________________________________________________.
H. If my partner violates the protection order, I can call the police and report a violation, contact my attorney, call my advocate, and/or advise the court of the violation.
I. If the police do not help, I can contact my advocate or attorney and will file a complaint with the chief of the police department.
J. I can also file a private criminal complaint with the district justice in the jurisdiction where the violation occurred or with the district attorney. I can call the domestic abuse advocate to help me deal with this.
Step 5: Safety on the job and in public.
Each battered woman must decide if and when she will tell others that her partner has battered her and that she may be at continued risk. Friends, family, and co-workers can help to protect women. Each woman should consider carefully which people to invite to help secure her safety.
I might do any or all of the following:
A. I can inform my boss, the security supervisor, and _______________________________ at work of my situation.
B. I can ask_________________________________ to help screen my telephone calls at work.
C. When leaving work, I can ____________________________________________________.
D. When driving home, if problems occur I can _______________________________________________.
E. If I use public transit, I can _____________________________________________________________.
F. I can use different grocery stores and shopping malls to conduct my business and shop at hours that are different than those when residing with my battering partner.
G. I can use a different bank and take care of my banking at hours different from those I used when residing with my battering partner.
H. I can also ______________________________________________________________________.
Step 6: Safety and drug or alcohol use.
Most people in this culture use alcohol. Many use mind-altering drugs. Much of this use is legal and some is not. The legal outcomes of using illegal drugs can be very hard on a battered woman, may hurt her relationship with her children, and put her at a disadvantage in other legal matters with her battering partner. Therefore, women should carefully consider the potential cost of the use of illegal drugs. But beyond this, the use of alcohol or other drugs can reduce a woman's awareness and ability to act quickly to protect herself from her battering partner. Furthermore, the use of alcohol or other drugs by the batterer may give him/her an excuse to use violence. Therefore, in the context of drug or alcohol use, a woman needs to make specific safety plans.
If drug or alcohol use has occurred in my relationship with the battering partner, I can enhance my safety by some or all of the following:
A. If I am going to use, I can do so in a safe place and with people who understand the risk of violence and are committed to my safety.
B. I can also___________________________________________________________.
C. If my partner is using, I can______________________________________________________.
D. I might also ___________________________________________________________________.
E. To safeguard my children, I might __________________________________________________ and _______________________________________________________________________________________.
Step 7: Safety and my emotional health.
The experience of being battered and verbally degraded by partners is usually exhausting and emotionally
draining. The process of building a new life for myself takes much courage and incredible energy.
To conserve my emotional energy and resources and to avoid hard emotional times, I can do some or all of the following:
A. If I feel down and ready to return to a potentially abusive situation, I can _____________________.
B. When I have to communicate with my partner in person or by telephone, I can _________________________________________________________.
C. I can try to use "I can…" statements with myself and to be assertive with others.
D. I can tell myself "___________________________________________" whenever I feel others are trying to control or abuse me.
E. I can read ____________________________________________ to help me feel stronger.
F. I can call _________________, _________________________, and __________________ as other resources to be supportive of me.
G. Other things I can do to help me feel stronger are____________________________________________.
H. I can attend workshops and support groups at the domestic violence program or ___________________________ or ________________________ to gain support and strengthen my relationships with other people.
Step 8: Items to take when leaving.
When women leave partners, it is important to take certain items with them. Beyond this, women sometimes give an extra copy of papers and an extra set of clothing to a friend just in case they have to leave quickly.
Items with asterisks on the following list are the most important to take. If there is time, the other items might be taken, or stored outside the house.
These items might best be placed in one location, so that if I/we have to leave in a hurry, I can grab them quickly.
When I leave I should take:
*Identification for myself
*Children's birth certificates
*My birth certificate
*Social security cards
*School and vaccination records
*Checkbook, ATM card
*Driver's license and registration
Medical records-for all family members
Lease/rental agreement, house deed, mortgage payment book
Small saleable objects
Children's favorite toys and/or blankets
Items of sentimental value
Telephone numbers I need to know:
Domestic Abuse program:_____________________________
Protection order registry:_______________________________
Supervisor's Home number:____________________________
Developed by Barbara Hunt and Jane Stuehling, PCADV, 524 McKnight Street, Reading, PA 19601 PCADV, 1992
Adopted from “Personalized Safety Plan,” Office of the City Attorney, City of San Diego, CA April, 1990.