Basic Safety Planning
If you are in an abusive relationship, this is important information from the Domestic Violence Resource Center to keep you and your family safe.
Safety During an Argument
- Stay in an area with an exit and avoid letting the other person get between you and the exit.
- Practice getting out of your home safely.
- Avoid rooms with weapons, such as the kitchen.
- Have an emergency spare cellphone hidden in your home for emergency 911 calls.
- Tell trustworthy neighbors about your situation and ask them to call the police if they hear or see any disturbance.
- Devise a code word or signal to use with your children, family, friends, and trustworthy neighbors when you need them to contact the police.
- Trust your instincts and judgment. You have the right to protect yourself until you are out of danger.
Safety When Preparing to Leave
- Establish your independence early by opening savings and credit card accounts in your name only, and specifically instruct institutions that your partner is not to have access.
- Leave money, extra keys, copies of important documents, extra medicine and clothes with someone you trust so you can leave quickly.
- Identify people you can trust to stay with, and who will help you leave your home.
- Develop, review and rehearse your safety plan.
- Keep a packed bag at a trusted relative’s or friend’s home.
- Plan where you will go if you are forced to leave your home.
Safety in Your Own Home After the Abuser is Gone
- Change the locks on your doors. (Landlords are legally obligated to change locks within 24 hours if you are experiencing domestic violence).
- Install locks on your windows. (If you are renting your home, make sure to check with your landlord first.)
- Discuss and practice a safety plan with your children for those times when you are not with them.
- Give your children’s schools or caregivers the names of those people who have permission to pick up your children.
- Inform neighbors and landlord that your partner no longer lives with you and to call the police if they see him/her near your home.
Safety with a Restraining Order
- Keep your protective order on you at all times, and give a copy to a trusted neighbor, friend or family member.
- Call your local police if your abuser violates the protective order.
- Have a few alternative ways to keep safe if the police do not respond right away.
- Inform family, friends, neighbors and health care providers that you have a restraining order in effect.
Safety on the Job and in Public
- Decide who at work you will inform of your situation, including someone in building security (if applicable).
- Provide a photo of your abuser for quick identification.
- Screen your telephone calls.
- Devise a safety plan for leaving work, such as exiting through the back door or stairwell.
- Have someone escort you when leaving and wait with you until you are safely in en route.
- Use a variety of routes when you go to and from work and home.
- Rehearse what you would do if something happened while going home, such as picking a safe place to go to to call for help.
- Create a safety routine when you arrive home which includes checking your house and property, checking in with someone to let them know you are safe, etc.
Your Safety and Emotional Health
- Identify who you can rely on for emotional support and call our Crisis Line at 904-824-1555.
- If you have to communicate with your abuser, determine the safest way to do so and avoid being alone with them.
- Advocate for yourself and your needs. Find people and resources you can safely and openly talk to and ask for help. You are not alone, and you do not have to go through this by yourself.
- Contact us to find out about counseling and support groups that directly address your experiences and needs.
- Find ways to care for yourself: exercise, make time to relax, create a safe environment, do things you enjoy, get as much support as you can.
Internet and Computer Safety
- Remember that all computer and online activity may be monitored.
- Abusers may monitor your emails and internet activity, if you are planning to flee to a particular location, don’t look at classified ads for jobs and apartments, bus tickets, etc. for that place.
- It is safer to use a computer in a public library, at a trusted friend’s house, at an internet cafe, or any other public places with internet access.
- Abusers may also track your activity and whereabouts through your cell phone; if you think there a chance this may be happening, take your phone into your service provider to have it thoroughly checked.
- If your phone has been compromised and you get a new one, do NOT update your phone from the cloud.
Checklist: What You Should Take When You Leave
- Restraining order/stalking order
- Lease, rental agreement, house deed
- Car registration
- Health and life insurance cards
- Divorce papers
- Custody papers
- House and car keys
- Valuables, photos, etc.
- Address book
- Phone card/safety cell phone
- Clothes, blankets, small toys for children
- Clothes, hygiene necessities, etc. for yourself
- Driver’s license
- Children’s birth certificates
- Social security card
- Self-sufficiency/disability identification
- Medical records for you and your children
- Work permits/green card
Have you thought of everything?
We developed a fill-in-the blank checklist that can help you identify any gaps in your safety planning.
Just open and print out the following form and fill in all the information. Then, follow up and reach out to those you’ve identifed who you trust and can help you if you have to get away from a violence situation quickly.