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Domestic Violence: How To Develop A Safety Plan

Updated on March 1, 2015

Important Documents

When you are thinking of creating a safety plan to leave an abusive partner, think about what documents you will need to start your life over. Often times the list of documents will include:

  • Drivers License
  • Birth Certificate
  • Social Security Card
  • Marriage Certificate
  • Children's birth certificates
  • Children's Social Security Card
  • Banking Documents
  • Passport
  • VISA Cards and other immigration documents

These documents will be important whether you need to apply for social services to assist you on getting back on your feet, registering your children in a new school, or applying for a lease for housing.

Keep these documents in a place that you can get to quickly and safely when you decide to leave. This could be in the trunk of your car, stored at a trusted family/friend's home, or a safety deposit box. However, if you have a safety deposit box, please make sure you have placed the key in a safe place as well. Often times you can't keep originals stored away, such as your drivers license. But, make a copy and put the copy with your other documents. There's no guarantee when you leave you will be able to so and have time to gather everything you will need.

Clothing and Important Items

In an abusive relationship, it's not always easy to do things without being noticed. But, if the opportunity presents itself to pack away at least one full clean outfit for you and each of your children, do so. Place these items in a bag, suitcase, etc and again, place them where you can easily access them. If you can not keep them in your home or car, give them to a trusted family member to hold for you.

Also, if you have children who will need to go with you because of their safety, think about packing at least one security item for each child, whether that be a stuffed animal, doll or toy that can bring them comfort during a particularly difficult and stressful time for them.

Every Dollar Counts

Yes, I am aware that with domestic violence there is often times no financial freedom and most victims have to account for every dollar. But, if possible, put money aside, even if it's change, every chance you have. Even if this money only ends up covering a train ticket, or gas money for a friend to drive you away. Keep your money in your bag with your other items so that it is accessible when you leave.

National Coalition Against Domestic Violence

Resources List of local Domestic Violence agencies.
Resources List of local Domestic Violence agencies. | Source

Identify Someone Safe

Domestic Violence isolates most victims-it's a way the abuser keeps control. But try to identify at least one person who is safe to you. This person will be your go-to-person when you need someone on your side. Make sure you can trust them not to tell anyone what you are doing. And if you do not have a trusting person in your life, contact your local domestic violence program for support.

With this safe person, set up a code word to let them know if you should ever say it, they should be alerted to call the police for you. Maybe you will tell your trusted friend that you will call her and ask her if she knows of any home remedies for a headache. This question should trigger her that you need the police and she will call your local police department to respond. Make sure your friend knows your address and will make the call for help.

This friend may also be the person who will store your safety plan supplies (documents, clothing, etc). If so, you can make arrangements to get your belongings from her once you have escaped safely.


Be Aware of Your Surroundings

When a domestic violence episode erupts and you're trying to get away, keep the following in mind:

  • Stay away from the kitchen-there are too many sharp objects that can be used as a weapon
  • Stay out of confined spaces like closets or bathrooms-you can be trapped with only one way in and out making it difficult to get away.
  • If possible escape to a room where there is an accessible exit-try and get some place safe, outdoors if possible. Run to a neighbors house who will help you or call the police.

Tune Out Your Technology

In a world of technology, there are pros and cons. When it comes to escaping domestic violence, make sure you remember that your cellphone may be all the tracking device your partner needs to find you. Turn off the gps on your phone. And if you are posting to social media, make sure your not posting your location. If you share a phone plan with your partner, call your carrier and see if you can separate your plan due to safety issues.

You Are Strong

Remember, you are are a survivor. If you are in an abusive relationship and are reading this, you have survived. Survival takes strength. Don't give up on yourself. Believe that you can do this, when the time is right and you can secure your safety. Starting over may be scary, but you have already taken on circumstances that many will never have to survive and you have done it!

You Are Not Alone

Your partner may want you to believe you have no one but him/her. But the truth is, you are not alone. If you no longer have family or friends who are willing to help, there are networks of professionals and volunteers who are trained and waiting to help you. Don't let shame or self-blame get in the way of reaching out for assistance. Help is only a phone call away!

Brooke Axtell Speaks Out

Stop and Think: You Deserve Love That Doesn't Hurt

It's perfectly normal to love the person who is hurting you. Domestic violence is a complex pattern of behaviors that didn't start off with hurt. You fell in love with your partner for all the reasons that made you feel good about the relationship you had. And even though there is pain and hurt in the relationship now, you still see glimmers of the person you fell in love with. These glimmers keep you hoping for better days to return, for the partner you fell in love with to resurrect him/herself.

It is normal to miss your partner after you leave because you still have love for him/her. But before you make a rash decision to return, wait it out t least 24 hours, make sure you are thinking clearly and considering all the options each decision you make holds. Talk it out with a safe person and weigh out the pros and cons of leaving.

Making a quick decision to go back to an abusive partner may put you at risk of an even more severe incident of abuse. So stop, think, give yourself time and then decide.


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