What is a Safety Plan?
If you are in a violent relationship, one of the most important steps you can take is to make a safety plan for the home and/or workplace (or school). These plans contain simple but critical steps you can take to increase your safety while you deal with the violence you face in your life.
Download your safety plan here.
Staying Safe at Home
If you are experiencing abuse at home, it is important to keep your identification documents in a safe place. You may also give copies of these documents to a trusted friend or family member with extra clothing, money, and keys in case you need to leave your home quickly.
These documents may include:
- Birth certificates for you and your children
- A photo ID or driver’s license
- Your social security number, green card/work permit and/or other immigration documents
- Health insurance cards
- A deed or lease to your home
- Pay stubs
- A checkbook and extra checks
If you are living with your abuser:
- Remove weapons from your house.
- When you sense a physical attack coming avoid the kitchen (due to potential weapons) and the bathroom (due to the tightly enclosed space).
- Talk about the abuse to someone you trust.
- Ask neighbors to call the police if they hear loud noises or fighting.
- Use a code word with your friends or family for those times when you are in need of assistance.
- Teach your children your address and phone number and how and when to call for help.
- Identify safe places for you and your children to go, if you have to leave your home in an emergency.
If you have left or are leaving your abuser:
- Try to be with someone as much as possible, especially when leaving your house, work, or anyplace the abuser knows about.
- Buy additional locks and safety devices to secure your windows and doors.
- Change your routines, especially your regular routes to and from places you visit frequently (work, schools, grocery store, bank, etc.). Be aware of your surroundings and look at make sure the abuser is not around. Report to friends/family about where you are, when you are leaving and returning.
- Carry the following at all times a cell phone/pager (keep it easily accessible) and a protection order (if you have one).
- Notify the police station in your district and give them copies of related police reports and civil protection orders.
- At work: Inform security and/or your supervisor about your situation and keep copies of important phone numbers at work.
If the abuser has left or has been evicted from the home:
- Change locks on doors and windows.
- Install a better security system—window bars, locks, better lighting, smoke detectors and fire extinguishers.
- Obtain a protective order.
- Find a lawyer who is knowledgeable about family violence to explore your rights and how to protect you, and your children (if any).
- Teach children, if any, to call the police or family and friends if they are snatched.
- Talk to schools and childcare providers, about who has permission to pick up the children. If you have a protective order, show it to them.
Staying Safe at Work
One of the best ways to protect yourself from abuse at work is to obtain a protective order, and make sure that it is on hand at all times. Include the workplace in the order; and give a copy to the police, your supervisor/manager, a colleague in the Human Resources department, the reception area, the Legal Department, and office security team. If you have children, review the safety of your children’s arrangement, whether it is on-site childcare at the workplace or off-site elsewhere. If you have a protective order, it can usually be extended to childcare center.
In addition to obtaining a protective order, we recommend the following actions to stay safe at work:
At your desk:
- Save any threatening emails or messages. You can use these to take legal actions–or if you have a protective order–to prove to court that order has been violated.
- Screen your calls and transfer harassing calls to security; or remove your name and number from automated phone directories.
- Relocate your workspace to more secure area.
- Look into alternative hours or work locations.
Talk with the security team, the police, or your supervisor/manager if you fear assault at work:
- Park close to entrance of your building.
- Ask security to escort you to and from your car or public transportation.
- Provide a picture of your abuser to reception areas and/or security.
- Identify an emergency contact person if the employer is unable to contact you.
Staying Safe from Stalkers
Things you can do:
Develop a safety plan, including things like: changing your routine, arranging a place to stay, and having a friend or relative go to places with you. Also, decide in advance what to do if the stalker shows up at your home, work, school, or somewhere else.
Tell people how they can help you: talk your family, friends, roommates, and co-workers about the stalking and seek their support. Tell security staff at your job or school. Ask them to help watch out for your safety.
Trust your instincts and do not downplay the danger. If you feel you are unsafe, you probably are.
If you are in immediate danger, call 911:
- Every state has stalking laws. The stalker may also have broken other laws by doing things like assaulting you or stealing or destroying your property.
- Consider getting a protective order that tells the stalker to stay away from you.
Keep evidence of stalking:
- If/When the stalker follows you or contacts you, write down the time, date, and place.
- Keep all forms of communication: emails, phone messages, text messages, letters, or notes.
- Photograph anything of yours the stalker damages and injuries the stalker caused.
- Ask witnesses to write down what they saw.
Contact a crisis hotline or victim service agency:
- They can help you devise a safety plan, give you information about local laws, refer you to other services, and weigh options such as seeking a protective order.
- Don’t communicate with the stalker.
- Take threats seriously. Danger generally is higher when the stalker talks about suicide or murder, or when the victim tries to leave or end the relationship.
Adapted from The National Center for Victims of Crime Resource Center: http://www.victimsofcrime.org/