What is a safety plan?

A safety plan is a practical, personalized plan to help you, your children, and your pets be safer in potentially unstable, dangerous situations. It's adaptable to changes in your situation and needs.

Safety planning helps you begin the process of taking back rightful control of your life and well-being. It takes into account your safety in various environments -- home, work, school, vehicle, electronic safety, etc. -- as well as incorporating an escape plan. 

Because an abuser's behavior may escalate and become more dangerous when a relationship is threatened or ending, always be prepared to call 911 and leave for your safety.

 

Need help and support with safety planning? Call our hotline at 970-247-9619 to confidentially discuss ideas and suggestions with one of our advocates.

 

If you are planning to leave, and/or you may be in danger from an abuser who lives or stays with you at times: 

Where possible, have as many of the following items as you can ready to go and hidden in a place where your partner won't find them. This could be in the trunk of your vehicle if you have one, with a trusted friend or family member, in a small household storage bin that won't be noticed, at your work if possible, etc.

  • $50 or more in cash
  • Small bag of extra clothing, personal items for you and your children, prescription medications, etc.
  • Extra house and car keys
  • Extra cell-phone charger
  • Important papers, account numbers and passwords, digital files stored on a USB stick, etc.
  • Essential phone numbers, if these are not in your cell phone's address book
  • A record of abusive incidents; include photos of property damage, personal injuries, harassing texts/emails, photo of your abuser

If your household is volatile and potentially dangerous, consider additional ways to protect yourself:

  • If it would be helpful, establish a code word or phrase with children, family, and friends that you can use with them in person or over the telephone to let them know of danger without alerting an abuser.
  • When an abuser shows signs of instability, agitation or anger, or you anticipate that coming, try to avoid rooms with a single exit door or where weapons or potentially harmful items such as kitchen knives are stored. If you have a cell phone, keep it charged and close at hand.
  • Try to keep your cell phone, keys, wallet, and shoes on or very near you in case you must immediately flee.
  • If you can hide any firearms, ammunition, and/or other weapons in the home without arousing suspicion and incurring risk, do so. Don't take any chances, however, that could put you or others at any risk of harm, including self-harm.

 

If you and your abuser are not living together:

Change the locks on your doors and any alarm codes, if used. Keep your home's and vehicle's windows and doors closed and locked.

Show people you trust -- including neighbors, coworkers, landlord, friends if trustworthy -- a photo of your abuser and ask them to report any sightings or encounters to you. If it doesn't feel safe to do that, trust your instincts.

To prevent losses in the event an abuser trespasses in your home when you're not present, keep with you or entrust to a safe person your important papers, account numbers, passwords, digital files on a USB stick, etc.

Carefully screen texts, emails, mail, and phone calls. Keep a record of any harassing communications including telephone hang ups, stalking, and suspicious behaviors.

Create a safety plan for going to and leaving home, work, school, etc., and share it with children and others. 

 

Electronic/Digital Safety. Abusers and stalkers mistakenly believe they are entitled to invade victims' privacy without explicit permission, including privacy on personal electronic devices. Our usage of the internet, computers, tablets, cell phones, and wearable tech such as physical-fitness wrist bands, sleep trackers, GPS watches leaves digital tracks -- including call/text logs, photos, website visits, email access, location info via GPS, etc. -- that can be extremely difficult or impossible to erase, regardless of whether spyware or tracking software has been intentionally installed by an abuser. Depending upon the level of access an abuser is able to establish, such data can be accessed remotely and without a victim's knowledge.

If possible without arousing suspicion and increasing danger to yourself, change your devices' account logins and enable greater protection through the use of complex passwords. To be absolutely certain you're using a cell phone that can't be accessed personally or remotely by an abuser, get a separate cell phone if you can that's not associated with any existing accounts known to your abuser, and keep its existence private.

Social media can be risky. Abusers often track their victims through various social media accounts. Depending upon the level of danger and harassment you've experienced, consider deleting your accounts and taking a complete break from social media until you can be absolutely that you're safe. At a minimum, lock down your accounts by setting new, complex passwords, using maximum privacy controls, and posting as little personal information as possible. It can be very difficult to give up all social media for an extended time, but it's often the safest course.

 

For more information on electronic and digital safety from the National Network To End Domestic Violence (NNEDV), check these three links:

12 Tips On Cell Phone Safety and Privacy

Technology Safety Quick Tips

Technology Safety Plan

 

Phone app for danger assessment and shelter/hotline contacts in your area:

RUSafe is a free, interactive app for all iPhone and Android users. While it is provided by the Women's Center and Shelter of Greater Pittsburg and Newton Consulting, it works across the U.S. for individualized danger assessment and help connecting you to emergency shelters and domestic-violence hotlines in your area.

 

Vehicular Safety. Check your vehicle for the presence of a GPS tracker that remotely transmits data to the abuser who installed it. If you're uncertain, use your vehicle as though it's being tracked until you can verify that it's free of any such devices.

 

Keeping Your Pets Safe

 

For College and High School Students: Loveisrespect.org exists to empower youth and young adults to prevent and end abusive relationships. Their safety planning information is here.