The following steps represent my plan for increasing my safety and preparing in advance for the possibility for 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 get out 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 _________(place) 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 house.
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 with my children and 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 to the location above, then I can go to _________ 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 that is lowest risk, such as __________ . (Try to avoid arguments in the bathroom, garage, kitchens, 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 315-536-2897 (Yates) or 800-247-7273 (Seneca/Ontario). I can seek safety by calling these numbers.
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 those numbers that I called after I left. To keep my telephone communications 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 money.
H. I can leave extra clothing with ___________.
I. I will sit down and review my safety plan every ___________ in order to plan the safest way to leave my residence. __________ (Domestic violence 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 that a woman can do to increase her safety in her own residence. It may be impossible 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, an 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/minister/other) in the event that my partner takes the children.
H. I will tell 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 __________ and ___________ (neighbors), ___________(pastor), __________(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 will 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 that 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.
D. For further safety, if I often visit other counties, I might file my protection order with the court in those counties/parishes. I will register my protection order in the following counties: ____________
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 minister, my closest friend, and my family that I have a protection order in effect.
G. If my partner destroys my protection order, I can get another copy from the courthouse 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.
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 to work.
C. When leaving work, I can ___________.
D. When driving home, if problems occur, I can ___________ .
E. If I use public transportation, I can ____________ .
F. I can use different grocery stores and shopping malls for purchases. I can 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 mood-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 action with her battering partner.
Therefore, women should carefully consider the potential cost of the use of illegal drugs. But beyond this, the use of any 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 and 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 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 tell myself “______________” whenever I feel others are trying to control or abuse me.
D. I can call __________ and __________ to help me feel stronger.
E. Other things I can do to help me feel stronger are ____________, and ___________ .
F. 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 a check mark listed below are the most important to take with you. If there is time, the other items might be taken, or stored outside the home.
These items might best be placed in one location, so that if 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
- Credit cards
- Keys — house/car/office
- Driver’s license and registration
- Welfare identification
- Work permits
- Green card
- Divorce papers
- Medical records $mdash; for all family members
- Lease/rental agreement, house deed, mortgage payment book
- Bank book
- Insurance papers
- Small saleable objects
- Address book
- Children’s favorite toys and/or blankets
- Items of special sentimental value
Telephone numbers I need to know:
- Police department – home ________________________
- Police department – school _______________________
- Police department – work ________________________
- Domestic Violence Program _______________________
- Work number ____________________
- Supervisor’s home number ________________
- Others _______________________
Adapted from Safety Plan created by: Barbara Hart & Jane Stuehling, PCADV, 1992
A child’s Safety Plan:
The most important thing that children can do for their mothers and their families is to protect themselves. Although children often try to stop the violence by distracting the abuser or directly interfering in the abusive episode, they cannot stop the abuse. It is important to tell your child that the best and most important thing for them to do is to keep themselves safe.
Developing a safety plan may depend on your child’s age and developmental ability. Children who are exposed to domestic violence are often deeply affected. It is very frightening for them to witness violence, whether it is directed at them or at someone they love. Personal safety and safety planning are extremely important. Children should learn ways to protect themselves. Below is a list of things clients can do to develop a safety plan for themselves and their children.
- Tell your child that the most important thing is for them to be safe. Children should know that it is not their responsibility to make sure that their mother/father is safe.
- The first step of any safety plan is for the child to leave the area where the abuse is occurring. Have your children pick a safe room/place in your house, preferably with a lock on the door and a phone in the room.
- Teach your children how to call for help. It is important that your children know how to use a phone where they cannot be seen by an abuser. Talk to your children about using a neighbor’s phone or a pay phone if they are unable to use the phone at home. If you have a cell phone, teach your children how to use it.
- Make sure that your children know their full name and address.
- Role play with your children and practice what they will say when they call for help.
- It is important for children to leave the phone off the hook after they are finished talking if they use the home phone. Otherwise the police may call the number back for verification and your abuser could be alerted.
- Pick a safe place out of the home to meet your children when it is safe to do so, ie: the neighbors.
- Teach your children the safest route to the planned place of safety for them.
If you are ready to get help, please reach out. We are here 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Ontario/Seneca Counties: 800-247-7273
Yates County: 315-536-2897
Safety if you decide to stay with your abuser:
- Your abuser may have patterns to his abuse. Know how violent your abuser tends to get. Know any signs that show he’s about to become violent. Know how dangerous a situation may be for you and your children.
- If it looks like violence might happen, try to leave if you can.
- Know things that your abuser can use as a weapon. He may use sharp or heavy objects, like a hammer or an ice pick, to hurt you.
- Know where guns, knives, and other weapons are. If you can, lock them up or make them as hard to get as possible.
- Figure out “safe places” in your home-places where there aren’t weapons. If it looks like your abuser is about to hurt you, try to get to a safe place. Stay out of the kitchen, garage, or workshop. Try to avoid any rooms with tile or hardwood floors.
- Don’t run to where the children are. Your abuser may hurt them also.
- If there’s no way to escape the violence, make yourself a small target. Dive into a corner and curl up into a ball. Protect your face and put your arms around each side of your head, wrapping your fingers together.
- If you can, always have a phone you can get to. Know the numbers to call for help. Know where the nearest pay phone or neighbor is. Don’t be afraid to call the police or 911.
- If you need help in a public place, yell “fire”. People respond more quickly to this than to any other cry for help.
- Let friends and neighbors you trust know what’s going on. Make a plan with them for when you need help. Have a signal, like flashing the lights on and off or hanging something out the window, to tell them you need help.
- Teach your children how to get help. Tell them not to get involved if your abuser is hurting you. Plan a code word to let them know that they should get help or leave the house.
- Practice how to get out safely. Practice with your children.
- Plan for what you will do if your children tell your partner about your plan or if your partner finds your plan out some other way.
- Make a habit of backing the car into the driveway and having a full tank of gas. Keep the driver’s door unlocked and others locked-for a quick escape.
- Try not to wear scarves or long jewelry. Your abuser could use these things to strangle you.
- Create several reasons he’ll believe for leaving the house at different times of the day or night.
- Call a domestic violence hotline from time to time to talk about your options and to talk to someone who understands.
- Tell your children that violence is never right, even when someone they love is being violent. Tell them that violence is not their fault or yours. Tell them that when anyone is being violent, the most important thing is to keep safe.