If you’re in a violent or abusive relationship, what can you do to keep yourself safe? For some survivors of domestic violence, developing a plan ahead of time is helpful to have in the event of another violent episode or when they feel emotionally overwhelmed. A plan may be helpful when it is hard to think clearly in the middle of a crisis. Each survivor’s situation is unique, so every safety plan is different. And a good safety plan changes over time, as your situation changes.
Here are some ideas that you can consider, strategies that other survivors may have included in their plans. These ideas do not cover every possible scenario; and you may find that some may or may not work for you. It is your decision whether to make a safety plan, and what to include if you do make one. It may help to speak with a leader in the domestic violence field. You should also consider where you can safety keep this plan so your abuser does not have access to it.
Let friends, family, neighbors and co-workers know what is happening and talk about ways they might be able to help.
Increase safety during an argument or if you can tell abuse is coming. For example, some rooms in your home may be safer than others. Some survivors try to move away from the kitchen because it has knives and other many sharp objects. Others also try to avoid arguments in the bathroom, garage, near weapons or in rooms without access to the front door.
If it is an emergency, please call 911 immediately! It is also good to memorize a friend’s or family member’s phone number, or the local hotline. Other resources include the VINE Hotline: 1-888-2NV-VINE, the Nevada Domestic Violence Hotline 1-800-500-1556 and National Domestic Violence Hotline 1-800-799-SAFE (7233). Keep in mind that the person hurting you could take your cell phone from you, so memorizing numbers or keeping a list of numbers somewhere safe may be helpful.
If you live in an apartment building, make sure you know all the ways out of the building. Consider what routes you could take to get to transportation, and where you could go to get to safety. You could learn how to get to a local police station, fire department, hospital emergency room, or 24-hour store. Keep your vehicle fuel tank full at all times.
Some survivors teach their children how to call 911, or talk with them about a neighbor’s home or place in the community that may be a safe place to go in an emergency.
You may want to put together a bag that includes money, copies of house and car keys, medicine, and copies of important papers such as birth certificates, social security cards, immigration documents, court orders, and health insurance information. The bag could also include extra clothes, important phone numbers, or other things you might need if you had to leave your home in a hurry. If you prepare an emergency bag, you may be able to keep it at a trusted friends or family member’s home. If you have decided to prepare an emergency bag, and have a place in mind where you can safely keep it, here is a checklist to help you decide what to put in the bag.