Safety Planning

Safety planning is a very important part of getting out of a domestic violence situation. These tips I have taken directly from the website www.thehotline.org.

1.
Safety Planning with Children.

If you have children, be sure your safety plan includes ways to keep them safe when violence occurs and important details to remember while preparing to leave and after.

Physical safety at home

  • Teach your children when, how, and who to contact during an emergency.
  • This can include trusted friends, family members, neighbors, local service providers, and more.
  • If possible, instruct them to leave the home when situations begin to escalate and establish where they can go. Create a plan ahead of time with trusted people who your children can turn to during a moment of crisis.
  • Come up with a code word for when to leave the house in an emergency and make sure they know not to tell others what the secret word means.
  • Identify a room in the house that they can go to when they’re afraid, and something calming they can focus on for comfort.
  • Instruct them to stay out of areas containing items that could be used to harm them, including kitchens and bathrooms.
  • Teach them that they shouldn’t try to intervene in moments of violence, even though they may want to protect their parents.
  • Plan for what you will do if your children tell your partner of your plan, and remember never to blame them for their responses to your partner’s abusive behavior

Planning for unsupervised visits

  • Create a separate safety plan for situations in which your children may spend unsupervised time with your abusive partner.
  • If your children are old enough, brainstorm with them to come up with ways that they can stay safe using the same model as you would for your own home. Help them identify where they can get to a phone, who they can contact, how they can leave the house, and where they can go.
  • If possible, give your children a cell phone to be used in emergency situations.

Planning for safe custody exchanges

  • Avoid exchanging custody at your home or your partner’s home. Meet in a safe, public place like a restaurant, store, or other area with visibility.
  • Bring a trusted friend or family member with you to make custody exchanges, or have them make the exchange on your behalf.
  • Find ways to schedule custody exchanges without interacting with your partner. One way of doing this is to arrange for your partner to pick your children up from school at the end of the day after you drop them off in the morning, or vice versa, to eliminate the chances of seeing each other.
  • Emotional safety plan for yourself and your children. Figure out something to do before the exchange to calm any nerves you might be feeling, and something to focus on afterwards for yourself or your children, like going to a park or doing a fun activity.

2.
Safety Planning While Living with an Abusive Partner

Living with an abusive partner can make it especially hard to identify or create opportunities to leave. Here are some important steps you can take to help prepare to leave an abusive living situation:

  • Identify your partner’s use and level of force so you can assess the risk of physical danger to yourself and others before it occurs.
  • Identify safe areas in your residence with pathways to exit, away from any weapons. If arguments occur, try to move to those areas before they escalate.
  • If safe, have a phone accessible at all times and know what numbers to call for help, including friends or family, The Hotline at 800.799.SAFE (7233), and your local shelter. Know where the nearest public phone is located.
  • Let trusted friends and neighbors know about your situation and develop a plan and visual signal for when you might need their help. Give them clear instructions on who you do or do not want them to contact in moments of crisis, including law enforcement.
  • Talk to others living in the residence how to get help, including children or roommates. Instruct them not to get involved in violence between you and your partner and work with them to establish a mutual signal for when they should get help or leave the house.
  • Create several plausible reasons for leaving the house at different times of the day or night. Ex. multiple trips to the grocery store, spending time with friends, staying at work longer, find unnecessary errands to complete.  
  • If possible, practice how to get out safely, including with others who may be living in the residence.
  • Plan for what to do if your partner finds out about your plan.
  • If possible, keep weapons like guns and knives locked away and stored as inaccessibly as possible. If you are concerned about your safety, please reach out to an Advocate.
  • Be mindful of how clothing or jewelry could be used to physically harm you. For example, if your partner has put their hands around your neck, avoid wearing scarves or jewelry that can be used to harm you.
  • Back your car into your driveway when you park at home and keep it fueled. If possible, keep the driver’s door unlocked with the rest of the doors locked to allow for quick access to the vehicle.
  • If violence is unavoidable, make yourself as physically small as possible. Move to a corner and curl into a ball with your face protected and arms around each side of your head, fingers entwined.

3.
Emotional Safety Planning

Emphasis is often placed on planning around physical safety, but it’s also important to consider your emotional wellbeing when creating a safety plan. Emotional safety looks different for different people, but planning for your emotional safety is ultimately about developing a personalized plan that helps you feel accepting of your emotions and decisions when dealing with abuse.

Emotional safety planning will also build resilience to help you deal with the impact of abuse. Here are some steps you can take to help create and maintain an emotional safety plan that works for you:

decisions when dealing with abuse.

Emotional safety planning will also build resilience to help you deal with the impact of abuse. Here are some steps you can take to help create and maintain an emotional safety plan that works for you:

  • Seek out supportive people. A caring presence such as a trusted friend or family member can help create a calm atmosphere to think through difficult situations and discuss potential options.
  • Identify and work towards achievable goals. Achievable goals can be as simple as calling a local resource to see what services are available in your area, or talking to one of our advocates at The Hotline. Remember that you don’t have to do anything you aren’t comfortable with, but taking small steps can help options feel more possible when you’re ready.
  • Create a peaceful space for yourself. Designating a physical place where your mind can relax and feel safe can help you work through the difficult emotions that arise when dealing with abuse. This can be a room in your house, a spot under your favorite tree, a comfy chair by a window, or in a room with low lighting.
  • Remind yourself of your inherent value. You are special and important, and recognizing and reminding yourself of this reality is important for your emotional health. It’s never your fault when someone chooses to be abusive to you, and their actions are no reflection of the great value you have as a person.
  • Remember that you deserve to be kind to yourself. Take time every day to practice self-care, even if only for a few minutes, in order to establish space for peace and emotional safety in your life. It’s healthy and recommended to give yourself breaks from the stressors in your life, to the extent that you’re able to. Little moments like these can go a long way in helping you think more clearly and make informed decisions.

Children who experience abusive situations are forced to process complex emotions, often without being equipped to do so in healthy ways. Creating an emotional safety plan for and alongside your children can help them navigate these emotions and prepare them to respond to moments of crisis in ways that protect their short-term and long-term emotional wellbeing.

  • Make sure your safety planning is age-appropriate. A safety plan will look differently for a younger child than it would for a teen, but your love and support will look the same.
  • Let your children know that what’s happening isn’t their fault and that they didn’t cause it. Tell them that you support them no matter what.
  • Tell them that abuse is never right, even when the person being violent is someone they love.
  • Tell them that you want everyone to be safe, so you have to come up with a plan to use in case of emergencies.
  • Remember that your child might tell your partner whatever information you come up with together, which could make an abusive situation more dangerous. When talking about safety plans, use phrases like, “We’re practicing what to do in an emergency,” instead of, “We’re planning what you can do when ____ becomes violent.”
  • Help them make a list of people they’re comfortable talking with and expressing themselves to, and make sure they can contact those people if needed.
  • If possible, enroll them in a counseling program or therapy. Try to find a program that is culturally relevant and specialized in child counseling. If you ever need resources, our Advocates can help find support in your area.

Please note: All safety planning tips are directly from http://www.thehotline.org