Personalized Safety Plan
This is my plan for increasing my safety and preparing in advance for the possibility of further violence. While I do not have control over my abuser’s violence, I do have a choice about how to respond to him/her and how best to get myself and my children to safety.
Step 1: Safety during a violent incident
A victim cannot always avoid their abuser’s violence. In order to increase my safety, I may:
A. Keep my purse and car keys ready and put them someplace.
B. Teach my children how to use the telephone and call 911.
C. Tell neighbors and friends about the abuse and ask them to call 911 if they hear suspicious noises coming from my house.
D. If I have to leave my home, I will go to ______________________________.
Decide this even if you don’t think there will be a next time.
E. When I think we are going to have an argument, I will try to move to a space that I can escape from, like ______________________________.
Suggestion: Try to avoid arguments your abuser starts in the bathroom, garage, kitchen, near weapons or in rooms without an outside door. Bathrooms, kitchens, and garages often have things in them which can be used as weapons.
F. I will use my judgment and senses to enhance my safety. I will do whatever I can to protect myself until I am out of danger. I know best what works with my abuser.
Step 2: Safety when preparing to leave
Victims often leave their homes for safety, especially when they live with their abusers. If I decide to leave, I need to plan carefully in order to increase my safety. My abuser might hurt me if he/she thinks that I might leave. To make leaving safer for me, I can:
A. Open a secret savings account to increase my independence.
B. Check with _______________ and _______________ to see if I can stay with them or if they can lend me money.
C. Call 1-800-494-8100 (in Rhode Island) to get the numbers of domestic violence hotlines. I can then call to get shelter and talk.
D. Rehearse my escape plan and practice it with my children (if it is safe to do so).
Step 3: Safety in my own home
I can do other things to increase my safety at home, like:
A. Change the locks on my doors and windows.
B. Replace wooden outside doors with steel or metal doors.
C. Install a security system: add extra locks, window bars, poles to wedge against doors, an electronic alarm system, door alarms, etc.
D. Install outside motion detecting flood lights that go on whenever someone comes close to my house.
E. Tell people who care for my children who can (and who can’t) pick them up. Ask them to call 911 if my abuser shows up to get them when I have a restraining order giving me temporary custody.
Step 4: Safety with a protection order
Some abusers obey “no contact” orders (related to a criminal charge) or restraining orders (can be sought whether or not there is a criminal case), but I can never be sure if my abuser will obey my protection order. I may need to ask the police to arrest my abuser if he/she does not obey a protection order. To help the police or the courts enforce my protection order, I can:
A. Keep my official copy of my protection order in a safe place where I can find it quickly.
Note: Always keep a copy with you, 24 hours a day, wherever you go. You may need to show it to the police to prove you have it if your abuser violates it.
B. Give copies of my protection order to the local police departments of the communities where I work and/or live.
C. Tell people around me that I have a protection order against my abuser. Ask my employer, my co-workers, my religious leader, my family, my friends, my neighbors, to tell me or call the police if they see my abuser looking for me when I am around.
D. If my abuser destroys my copy of my protection order, I can get another copy from the courthouse or police station where it was first issued.
E. If my abuser violates the protection order, I can tell the police and report it, contact my attorney, call my victim advocate, and/or tell the court about the violation. I should always write down the date and time that it was violated, and what happened.
Step 5: Safety on the job and in public
I will need to decide if, when, and how I will tell others that I have been abused and that I may still be at risk. My friends, family and co-workers can help protect me. I can think about who to ask to help me become safe. I can also:
A. Shop and do banking at places different from those my abuser knows about at times that are not normal for me.
B. Tell my boss, the security supervisor, and others at work that my abuser is dangerous to me.
C. When leaving work, if I see my abuser, I can ______________________________.
D. When I’m driving, if problems occur, I can ______________________________.
E. If I take a bus, train, or taxi and I see my abuser, I can ______________________________.
Step 6: Safety and my emotional health
Being abused and put down can be exhausting and emotionally draining. Building a new life for myself (and my children) takes a lot of courage and energy. To save up my emotional energy and resources, I can:
A. Call _______________ and _______________ for moral support.
B. Go to support groups at a domestic violence agency or _______________ to get validation and support for myself.
C. When I feel down and think about going back to my abuser, I can ______________________________.
D. If I plan to use drugs or alcohol to dull my pain, I can get treatment and help from ______________________________.
Step 7: Items to take when leaving
If I decide to leave my abuser, I will need to bring some important things with me. I can leave a copy of my protection order, extra clothing, and spare car and house keys with a friend just in case I have to leave quickly.
Following is a list of what I can bring if I decide to leave for safety. *Starred items are the most important.
When I leave, I should take:
- A packed bag (I can hide it somewhere in case I need it in a hurry)
- My identification documents.
- Birth certificates (mine and my children’s)
- Social security cards
- Children’s school and vaccination records
- Money (if possible), checkbook, ATM card, credit cards
- Keys to house, car, office, safety deposit boxes, etc.
- Driver’s license and registration
- Medications (mine and children’s)
- Welfare or other identification
- Work permits, green card
- Children’s favorite toys and/or blankets
- Divorce papers
- Medical records (mine and children’s)
- Lease/rental agreements, house deed
- Mortgage payment book
- Insurance papers
- Address book (especially if it has where I’m staying in it)
- Important and sentimental family pictures
- Small saleable objects
- Other things of special sentimental value that my abuser might destroy
Telephone numbers that I need to know:
Victims of Crime Helpline
Blackstone Valley Advocacy Center
Central Falls Police Department
Cumberland Police Department
Lincoln Police Department
Pawtucket Police Department
RI Coalition Against Domestic Violence
RI Legal Services
(401) 274-2652 or 1-800-622-5034