Preparing a Safety Plan is vital in a domestic violence situation. Your plan will help you keep yourself and your kids as safe as possible and potentially become a plan to exit the relationship.
Keep in mind that the abuse is not your fault. You do not deserve it. You are not to blame. You, in fact, deserve to be treated well and to live in safety. Creating your Safety Plan is a step in you taking care of yourself. You can not stop your partner's violence - only they can do that, but you can plan ahead to better protect yourself and your children.
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Your Safety Plan can either be made to reflect your decision to stay in the relationship or leave the relationship. You are the best decision-maker in your situation. You will know what needs to happen when the time comes.
Adding a plan for escalated violence is important for either scenario. Once you have a plan in place, you will be able to think more clearly and make better decisions in the moment. Keep in mind that your Safety Plan is for you and should not be shared with your partner. If you have a trusted family member or friend (NOT a mutual family member or friend), they can be aware and a part of your plan.
Here are items to consider for any type of Safety Plan:
Make a list of emergency phone numbers such as your Local Crisis Center, trusted family and/or friends, your Social Worker, and The National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-7233. You will want to put this list in a place that your partner is not aware of. (Read about Phone/Technology Safety)
Are you able to see a pattern with your partner's violence? Triggers, events, or conversations that spark a violent episode? This information will inform the next step.
Make a plan for possible scenarios. If ABC happens, I will do XYZ. For example, if my partner begins to yell at me, I will move the conversation into the living room where there is a door for me to exit. Think of rooms in your home with a safe exit, while avoiding rooms with weapons (Ex: the kitchen has knives and other sharp objects) or rooms with no exit. Your Advocate will help you think through situations and create your plan.
Do your children know how to call 911? Teach them when to call, how to call, and what information to give (description of the incident, address, full name).
Keep some money in your emergency bag or on your person at all times. This will be especially helpful if your exit becomes an emergency.
Pack an emergency bag for yourself and your children. Hide it somewhere safe (mutual friends and family should not be considered safe when you are leaving).
What belongs in your emergency bag? Here is a list of items you will want to consider and plan for ahead of time:
Medical Insurance Card
Your own personal Credit Cards
List of phone numbers (mutual friends and family are not safe at this time)
Financial records (bank statements, income assistance documentation, tax records, etc.)
Court Orders/Protection Orders
Work Permit/Green Card
Medications and/or prescriptions
Keys for home, car, safety deposit box, etc.
Clothes and toiletries
Special significance items for you and your children (For example your grandmother's wedding ring or a child's favorite stuffed animal)
Pictures of spouse and children
Feel free to add to this list any items you know you need/want to have with you. Thinking ahead will make at least this part of your plan happen fairly easily.
Another consideration is to start your own private bank account. A separate bank from the one your partner uses will be best. This way you can add money to the account before an emergency comes up. A little bit of money each week adds up over time.
Once again, remember the importance of seeking help from a Domestic Violence Advocate. If you are local (Fremont of Custer Counties) call us at 719-275-2429. Or you can call your local Crisis Center or the National Hotline at 1-800-799-7233. The help of an Advocate can be invaluable when it comes to creating your Safety Plan, as well as letting you know which services are available to you and your children.