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How to create a safety plan?

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.