Comprehensive Safety Planning To Protect Against Abuse

May 20, 2012 Kellie Jo Holly

Comprehensive safety plans empower abuse victims to think through their situation and find creative resources they may not have considered. Here's some help.

Way too many abuse victims continue suffering because they do not put together a viable safety plan. Safety planning can be a very taxing, emotional issue for victims because, in essence, they are confronting the fact that even if they love the abuser, they are in danger emotionally and physically. No one wants to believe that, but safety planning forces you to see the danger.

The safety plan, when courageously confronted and completed, lends a sense of empowerment to the abuse victim. When a victim acknowledges that there are times that s/he must leave the abusers presence in order to feel safe, this helps them to realize that they are not responsible for their partner's horrid behavior.

When an abuse victim completes a safety plan, she or he takes the first step toward successfully detaching from the abuser's control.

Comprehensive Safety Planning Issues

Safety plans address several issues that will contribute to a victim's overall sense of power and ability to decide what to do in both an emergency situation and before that situation occurs. Some of the issues addressed in a safety plan include:

  • Lists who to call for help.
  • Lists the safest rooms in her home and details a few different escape plans from the home should she need them. Thinking about this also shows problems such as stuck windows or narrow hallways.
  • Helps her decide where to keep spare keys (house and car), important documents, and sets of clothing for her children and herself.
  • Reminds her what documents she will need, and that she should put them in a safe place outside of the home in case she cannot or chooses to not return.
  • Reminds her that "safe places" include friend's homes, bank safety deposit boxes, her own secret PO Box, local shelters and other places where either she can hide or she can hide her important belongings.
  • Helps her to pre-plan what to do with her pets if she must leave suddenly. (Perhaps asking a friend to take care of the dog for awhile is a good idea when the abuser begins spiraling through the mean part of the abusive cycle). Shelters very rarely if ever allow pets.
  • Encourages her to find a way to access financial resources when she leaves. (Perhaps opening a personal account at the same bank as her abuser's so she can transfer money out of a joint account in an emergency.)
  • Helps her to open up to her friends, family, neighbors, daycare provider, and employer about the problem, which will end the isolating effects of abuse. (She may be surprised how many people she knows who are familiar with domestic abuse and her feelings!)
  • Guides her to find out what the procedure for acquiring a restraining order is in her area and discovering if/how a restraining order could benefit her search for community services after leaving.
  • Leads her to discover the general court proceedings she will encounter if she decides to divorce or separate from her abuser.
  • Helps her uncover services specifically for domestic abuse survivors to ease her transition out of the relationship if she chooses to leave permanently.
  • Reminds her of phone tracking software and the dangers of keeping her usual cell phone when leaving or posting to social media.

Safety Planning Difficulties

While going through the planning process, abuse victims will discover what they do not know! One item leads to another on the list, and as she thinks through the safety plan she will encounter unique problems and issues that the printed plan does not address. She may need emotional support as new problems that she identifies during planning can become overwhelming. I've done the planning, and frankly, it was enough to make me throw my hands in the air in frustration.

Nevertheless, working through a safety plan will greatly help abuse victims to gain a sense of power over their situation. In discovering remedies for each barrier to success, abuse victims gain self-pride and confidence to overcome their hardships. We must be bold, willing to communicate with other people, and creative to discover those solutions.

Knowledge is power, and a comprehensive safety plan enhances your ability to know your options and act with decisiveness.

APA Reference
Jo, K. (2012, May 20). Comprehensive Safety Planning To Protect Against Abuse, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, April 13 from

Author: Kellie Jo Holly

Donald J. Funk
February, 20 2013 at 4:08 am

If there is a women's shelter program in her area, she should contact them to get additional help and guidance. (I am a crisis counselor for a women's shelter and resource center in California.)

February, 20 2013 at 12:51 am

Thank you for your reply. It means a lot to me. I've found so many websites but many seemed to have been abandoned and noone monitors them anymore.

February, 16 2013 at 1:32 am

I just discovered your blog today - thank you so much for everything you do!
I need to escape my situation. My safety plan is I have money saved up, no joint accounts (we are not married), I will stay at my friends house (He doesnt know where she lives), I will tell my parents/ sister to not let him in their house, and to call the cops if he hangs around (plus keep the doors locked all the time), quit my job (but in the 2 weeks I have left there I will get escorted to and from my car, plus change my work hours).
Do you think I need to go ahead with a restraining order if I am going where he won't find me? I dont really want to go down that path because I have had to do it before with anothet ex and it was awful. Plus, I dont want my new address written on the order.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Kellie Holly
February, 19 2013 at 10:08 am

I think you could put the restraining order on the back burner. It will reveal your new address to him, and your past experience with the RO was a bad one. Follow your gut on this, but remember that things change. If he finds out where you live or begins stalking you, reconsider the RO. Only you know what is best for you.
Your plan seems sound! Go for it!

Kellie Holly
May, 21 2012 at 3:18 am

I'm so glad it helped you to think past where you were last week! It can take a lot out of you to complete the steps, but it's well worth it in the end.

May, 20 2012 at 6:51 pm

I never had or worked on a safety plan before you gave me a link last week. It is very useful and helped me think of few things i didn't think about before. Thank you very much <3

Leave a reply