Safety Planning 101

20 03 2009

medicine-wheel-02-500With the Chris and Rhianna situation, lots of people have been asking the question ‘why doesn’t she leave?’

But did you know that leaving a domestic violence situation is the most dangerous time in the relationship? That’s why if you do plan to leave, you should definitely take some precautions [also known as safety planning].

Here are some ways you can safety plan [**Please note that the following can still be helpful if you have already left; you still may be in danger**]:

  • Think of a safe place you can go if you get into an argument. Stay away from rooms/places with no doors [bathroom, closet] and rooms with weapons [the kitchen].
  • Create a list of people you can contact if you ever need to.
  • Keep change/money with you at all times.
  • Memorize all important numbers.
  • Make up a ‘code word’ or ‘sign’ that family, friends or coworkers, etc. will know when to call for help. And if you have children, create a code word for them so they will know what to do in a violent situation.
  • Keep a bag with clothes and important papers in the trunk of your car [if you have your own car or if you feel it’s safe]. You can also put it in a closet or area near the door[make sure it’s in a well-hidden place so your abuser can’t find it; if you have to leave immediately, you will have important things you need.
  • Think about what you’ll say if your partner becomes violent.

What should you do if you’ve already left?

  • Change your number.
  • Screen all calls.
  • Keep and document all contacts, messages, injuries, and other incidents from your abuser.
  • If the abuser has a key, change your locks.
  • If at all possible, do not stay alone.
  • Make a plan for how to get away if your abuser does show up where you are [it could be your home, job, school, anywhere].
  • If you have to meet your abuser, do so in a public place.
  • Vary your routine [this is important because your abuser could be stalking you].
  • Let your school and work contacts know what’s going on.
  • Call a domestic violence shelter. In addition to offering a place to stay, some shelters offer services for those not wanting to come into shelter like counseling, assistance with getting a Temporary Protective Order and more.
  • If you decide to leave the important papers you will need are: social security cards and birth certificates [for you and children], marriage license, leases and deeds, etc.

For more info on safety planning, check out the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence website: NCADV

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