Safety Planning

Safety at Home

If you ARE living in an abusive home, make the home as safe as possible by:

  • Removing sharp objects and weapons from sight
  • Keeping a telephone in a room that locks from the inside
  • Purchasing a cellular phone, if possible and keeping it in a pocket or in an accessible hiding place
  • Pre-programming 911 or the number of a safe friend or relative into the phone’s directory
  • Getting to know local police precincts in the area and any Domestic Violence officers in those precincts
  • Planning and practicing an escape route out of the home and a safety plan for any children

Keep a bag packed and hidden in a safe place at home (or locked in a car trunk with only one key), or with a safe relative or friend, in case of the need to flee. The bag should include:

  • Money for phone calls
  • One month’s expenses
  • Clothing
  • Diapers or any items for the children
  • Relevant official documents
  • Passports
  • Identification cards
  • Any court documents you may have
  • Social security
  • Driver’s license
  • Welfare identification
  • Family photographs
  • Birth certificates
  • School and medical records checkbooks
  • Work permit and/or green card
  • Proof of lease/mortgage payments
  • Insurance papers
  • Bank books
  • Ownership documents for car/house
  • Telephone/address books
  • Necessary medicines
  • Credit cards
  • Car/house keys

If you ARE NOT living with your abuser, make your home as safe as possible by:

  • Changing the locks
  • Adding dead bolts to the doors
  • Teaching the children not to let the batterer in the home (unless the batterer has a legal right to be there)

If feasible, please seek a protection order in court:

  • Make extra copies of the order and keep them in safe places
  • Ask the court or your lawyer to attach a copy of the full faith and credit provision of the Violence Against Women Act to each protection order
  • Show the orders to police officers to improve response
  • Give a copy of the protection order to the schools of your children and make them aware of the situation
  • Show neighbors a picture of the batterer and/or the batterer’s vehicle so they can screen visitors and call the police if necessary
  • Develop signals to tell neighbors and friends to call the police, such as banging on the floor or wall. If possible, arrange to have a relative or friend call every day at an appointed time.
Safety at Work

Take the following preventive measures:

  • Give a picture of the batterer and the batterer’s vehicle to security guards and colleagues at the workplace. If the batterer shows up, security or other workplace personnel can order the batterer to leave or call the police
  • Keep a copy of your protection order at work. Notify a supervisor or the Human Resources Department of the existence of the order and give them a copy
  • Screen calls with voicemail or an answering machine if possible, or ask a colleague to screen calls
  • Travel to or from work with another person.
Safety in Court or in Public Places
  • Wait in a safe place if your batterer is nearby, such as next to a security guard or a bailiff in court
  • Sit at a physical distance from the batterer. Always make sure other people are in between you and the batterer
  • Do not speak to the batterer or the batterer’s family members. Safeguard children if the batterer or family members insist on holding them
  • Make certain that you are safe when you leave a courthouse or a public place. Batterers often stalk victims to discover where they live, or to punish victims for taking legal action.
Other Tips
  • Trade cars with a friend or relative so a batterer cannot locate your vehicle
  • Have a mechanic look for a Global Position Systems tracking device on your car to make sure you are not being tracked by the device
  • Be aware that motor vehicle records, including addresses, may be available to the public. Most Departments of Motor Vehicles will permit drivers to use a number other than their social security number for identification purposes and will keep information confidential upon request
  • Obtain a private or unlisted telephone number, and be selective about revealing a new address. Batterers have located victims through friends, relatives, co-workers, court or social services documents, the post office, and private investigators
  • Use the block code when making telephone calls. Use an answering machine or call trace when receiving calls to collect evidence of harassment or protection order violations
  • Alter routines such as changing transportation routes or timing (including picking up children from school) so that the batterer cannot locate you

You can take the following steps if the abuser becomes violent or threatening:

  • Call the police at 911 (or the local equivalent) and ask for the dispatcher’s name. When the police respond, obtain the officer’s name and badge number
  • File criminal charges if the batterer commits a crime or violates a protection order
  • Seek medical treatment if injured by the batterer. Photograph all injuries
  • Record all contact with the batterer in a diary