Domestic Violence Safety Plan: How to Create, Implement One
Creating a domestic violence safety plan is the best way to protect yourself, even if you're not ready to get out of an abusive relationship. Just picture it. You can be far away from the barrage of blows that come at you with no provocation. You'll finally be able to sleep with both eyes closed... and not because they're swollen shut. Put on any outfit you'd like, without worrying about someone seeing the trail of bruises up and down your arms. Yes, a personal safety plan cannot only lead you to a happier life, but it can also save it.
Safety Planning in an Abusive Relationship
Staying in an abusive relationship is your own business, but safety planning can be the key to your survival. Be sure to learn the signs of domestic violence. Generally, the violent pattern of abuse will start with some basic threats or insults before quickly escalating to a full-blown physical attack. If you notice the pattern beginning again, do your best to casually get into a room with exits, and one without weapons. In other words, steer clear of the kitchen. If you can, try to make a reasonable excuse for leaving and get out as quickly as possible.
It's also a good idea to avoid wearing scarves, lengthy necklaces, or any other types of clothing or accessories that your partner could use to strangle you. Find a really good hiding place for any weapons like knives or guns that may be in your home. Lastly, set up a visual signal or code word with a neighbor or good friend, so they'll know when you're in danger and need their help.
How Do Children Fit into a Domestic Violence Safety Plan?
If you have kids, you certainly need to include them in your domestic violence safety plan. Above all else, explain to your children that violence is never the answer, and that no matter what, staying safe is the most important thing. Teach them to never get involved in any of your physical altercations; instead supply them with a specific code word or visual signal that will alert them to run for help or to the safety of a neighbor or friend. Depending upon the age of your kids, it's a good idea to practice these safety measures with them. Also, avoid running to your kids during an attack or your partner could end up attacking them too.
Every Good Safety Plan Includes an Emergency Kit
If you've made up your mind to get out of a violent relationship, your personal safety plan is now an exit plan. Creating an emergency kit as part of your domestic violence safety plan will make things much easier on you. The better stocked you are, the better prepared you'll be to leave at a moment's notice. If you have a car, make sure it's full of fuel and always park facing the exit of the driveway so you can make a quick escape if necessary. Keep the driver's door unlocked, while all other doors are locked.
Your emergency kit itself should contain valuable information and supplies that you can access quickly. Store it someplace well hidden in your home, or even better, at a close friend's house. What should you keep in your emergency kit? Things like an extra set of car and house keys, birth certificates, a deed or lease to your house or apartment, court papers, extra money, a checkbook, credit card, passport, green card, and even pay stubs. Also put in a few extra pairs of clothing for yourself and any children, extra eyeglasses, and any medications. Most importantly, keep an updated list of important phone numbers handy that include the local police department, domestic violence hotlines, and the hospital.
Nobody can predict the future, but by creating safety plans for domestic violence, domestic abuse victims can reduce or even escape the violent actions of their partner. Removing yourself completely from an abusive relationship is the best solution, but if you're committed to staying with it, at least protect yourself.
Last Updated: 27 November 2017
Reviewed by Harry Croft, MD