If you are in an abusive relationship or have left one, the most important thing you can do is to develop and follow a well thought out Safety Plan. Safety planning will help you think down through the issues you need to consider, set certain actions into motion, and help secure your safety and the safety of your children.
The following suggestions will assist you in developing your plan. If you need to talk with a victim advocate, call our 24 Hour Crisis Hotline at (317) 920-9320.
Discuss your Safety Plan with a friend or family member so he/she can help when you decide to put your plan into action.
Keep your Safety Plan in a safe place. You will want to get to it in a hurry should you need to leave quickly, but you don’t want your abuser to find it.
Still in the relationship?
Identify safe areas of your house where there are no weapons and that offer more than one way to escape. Go there when arguments occur. Avoid the kitchen where there are knives or a bathroom with only one exit.
- Understand your abuser's level of force and what triggers that abuse. Be cautious and try to avoid those triggers.
- If violence is unavoidable and you cannot escape, make yourself a small target. Dive into a corner and curl into a ball with your face protected and your arms around either side of your head.
- Make a list of safe people you can call.
- Have a phone accessible at all times and memorize important telephone numbers in case you need help.
- Establish a code word or visual signal so family, friends, or neighbors know when to call for help.
- Think about what to say to your partner if he becomes violent or finds out about your plans.
- Make a habit of backing your car into the driveway and keeping it fueled.
- Keep weapons like guns and knives locked up and inaccessible as possible.
- Make a survival kit that includes money, clothing, medications, documents, phone numbers, and extra sets of keys to your car and home.
- Try to hide some money that you can access easily (e.g. in a separate account or with friends, family members).
- Keep a journal of all violent incidents and be sure to note the dates, events, and threats made.
- If you have children,
- Never run to them as your abuser will follow and hurt them as well.
- Practice escaping the house; compare it to a fire drill.
- Plan a code word that they will instruct them to leave the house and get help.
- Tell them never to be afraid to call 911. If you need help, they must go to a safe place to use the phone.
- Tell them never to try to break-up a fight between grown-ups as they could get hurt.
Getting ready to leave?
Secure a safe place to stay. Our emergency shelter is available 24/7/365.
- Collect evidence of physical abuse including photographs of bruises, hospital visits, and/or torn clothing.
- If you are injured, go to your doctor or an emergency room. Make sure they document your injuries.
- Store some belongings with a friend or relative such as clothing, valued personal possessions, children’s toys.
- Collect the following documents:
- Journal of past incidents of abuse, police reports, and medical records
- Driver’s license
- Social security card (for you and your children)
- Birth certificates (for you and your children)
- Marriage license
- Citizenship documents (passport, green card, etc.)
- Copy of your will and other legal documents
- Medical records
- Checkbook, credit cards, bank statement, charge account statements, information about other assets
- Proof of income for you and your partner (pay stub or W-2s)
- Tax returns, leases, titles, deeds, and other property information
- Insurance information
- Helpful numbers to have (phone, accounts, passwords, etc.)
- Children’s school record, immunization records, and other medical information
What to do if you have pets?
Collect your pets’ license, veterinarian contact information and receipts, and proof of vaccinations.
Talk to neighbors, friends or family members to see if you can leave your pets with them. If not, our local Humane Society has a “Pet Safe” program where they will house your pet for up to three weeks. After that period, we can help you find temporary foster care.
Supervise your pets while they are outside and keep them indoors when you are not home.
Already left and living on your own?
Change your locks and phone number.
Secure all access points including windows, basements and garage doors.
Screen your phone calls.
Call your phone company and request your number be blocked.
Be careful of whom you give your address and phone number.
Carry a charged cell phone programmed to 911; we have extra chargers should you need one.
Consider renting a post office box for your mail or sign up for an address confidentiality program.
Alert school authorities about you and your children’s situation.
Reschedule any appointments that your abuser may be aware of.
Shop at different stores and change your social routine.
Ask your neighbors to call the police if they sense you are in danger.
Tell the people who care for your children about your situation and review the list of individuals who are allowed to pick up your children.
Get a protective order if you need one.
If you have a protective order
, keep a copy with you at all times, and give a copy of it to those who care for your children.
Plan how to get away if your abuser finds and/or confronts you.
How can you stay safe at work?
Change your work hours and the route you take to work.
Tell the people you work with about your situation and have your calls screened.
Give a copy of your protective order to your employer along with his picture.
Walk with a co-worker to and from your vehicle.
Take your breaks in a public safe area, visible by other co-workers.
Arrange for your pay to be paid directly to you or direct deposited in an account to which your abuser does not have access.
Request that your address and phone numbers be kept confidential and your name and number not be listed on any company directory.
Do you need a protective order? Recent studies indicate that filing for protective orders decrease the violence in the majority of cases. As a victim, your best defense is to obtain a protective order and adhere to your Safety Plan.
A protective order will:
- Prohibit your abuser from committing, or threatening to commit, acts of violence against you, your family or household members.
- Prohibit your abuser from harassing you through phone, email, or text messages.
- Prohibit your abuser from direct contact or contacting you through another person.
- Order your abuser to stay away from you at home, work, grocery stores, restaurants, school, and other places you or your household members usually go.
- Prohibit your abuser from possessing firearms, ammunition, and deadly weapons.
- Enable law enforcement to intervene at the earliest indications of a threat or violent behavior.