Although you cannot control the actions of an abuser, creating a safety plan can minimise the risk of you being harmed. A safety plan involves identifying steps of action and preparing in advance for the possibility of violence in the future. It can also be used to plan how to leave an abuser. Leaving an abusive partner can be dangerous and, if possible, it is important to plan ahead and seek specialist guidance in order to protect yourself and any dependents. You can find specialist frontline support services for your country on our Country Profiles. The following points offer guidance in creating a safety plan but remember that not all of these will work for you and so you should tailor your safety plan according to your specific situation.
Creating a safety plan during an incident of domestic violence:
If violence is occurring and you are unable to de-escalate the situation, consider which room is safest to move to, ideally with an exit route out of the house. Avoid the kitchen or garage where there may be weapons, or places where you could be trapped such as a bathroom.
Plan the quickest and safest route out of your home.
Teach your children how to use 999 in an emergency.
Consider whether it is possible for you to inform neighbours of your situation and ask them to call the police if they hear a violent attack.
Keep a small amount of money on you at all times in case you need to leave quickly.
Decide on a safe public space you can get to easily if you need to leave in an emergency. This will ideally be somewhere with people around and CCTV cameras, perhaps a police station.
Keep important emergency telephone numbers on you. This might be your GP, a social worker if you have one, the national domestic abuse hotline, a local police station.
Establish a code word or sentence with a trusted friend or family member that you can use to ask them to call the police in an emergency situation.
Creating a safety plan when leaving or getting ready to leave:
Think about your abuser’s routine and try to choose a time to leave when they are not around, taking into consideration where they will be in accordance with the route you plan to take.
Arrange a place for you to stay when you leave. This will ideally be a place where the abuser does not know the location so try to avoid staying with family or mutual friends. You can also arrange to stay at a refuge.
Consider the essential items you will need to take with you and put together an emergency bag and hide it somewhere safe. Key items are: identification (passport, driving license, birth certificate, visas, working permit); phone; charger; medication; money; keys; official legal documents relating to your assets and/or any evidence of past abuse carried out by the perpetrator.
Consider ways in which you might be tracked. Delete your internet search history, turn off location settings on your phone, consider whether an abuser has access to your phone and messages. If you share a bank account with your abuser, remember that they may be able to trace you via your transactions. Also consider whether your abuser has access to your social media accounts.
After you have left, try to alter your routine as much as possible and avoid places that you have been to together.
If you have children, you will need to inform the school of the situation and tell them of any changes to who will be picking up children etc.
Remember you are not alone and there are frontline support services who can provide expert guidance on how you can safely manage your individual situation.