If you are experiencing abuse, we recommend that you create a safety plan: a personalized, practical plan that can help you avoid and prepare for dangerous situations. A safety plan is based on your needs, and can include thinking through “How am I getting home safely?”, identifying the safe spaces in your house, or making a plan for your emotional safety.
Safety planning is not a guarantee of safety. Safety planning is an ongoing process, and it changes depending on your situation. Please call our telephone LifeLine (215.751.1111) or the 24/7 Philadelphia Domestic Violence Hotline (1.866.723.3014) to speak with trained, supportive counselors who can work with you to create your personalized safety plan.
If you are planning to leave your partner or have already left, be aware that abusive individuals often escalate their violence during times of separation – increasing your risk for harm, including serious and life-threatening injury. Making a safety plan can help reduce the risks to you and your family. Keep your safety plan hidden, keep your usual routine, and be careful to only share your plan to leave with people you trust.
Safety Planning Tips
Use What You Already Know
You already know more about safety planning and risk assessment than you might realize. Being in a relationship with an abusive partner and surviving requires considerable skills and resourcefulness. You know your situation best. Any time you have done or said something to protect yourself and/or your children, you have assessed risks and made a safety plan. You do it all the time.
You don’t need to wait for an emergency to ask for help. Find people who are supportive and nonjudgmental, talk to them before there’s a crisis, and add important phone numbers to your phone.
Some of the ways that you can ask for help may include:
- Asking neighbors and friends to call the police if they hear suspicious noises from your house
- Creating a code word or signal with your children and/or friends when you are in danger, so they can call for help
- If you are in recovery and have a Peer Support Specialist, keep their phone number handy so you can call whenever you need to talk about your recovery or relapse concerns
- Keeping your important documents (birth certificates, Social Security cards, financial information, immigration papers, insurance papers, etc) and a packed bag at a friend or family member’s house
- Informing your co-workers or workplace security about your situation
Identify and Evaluate Your Options
A safety plan is based on identifying options that are meaningful and that work for you. No two safety plans will look exactly alike.
Your safety plan may include carrying an extra set of keys, purchasing a pre-paid cell phone and keeping it with you at all times, or identifying your triggers for relapse.
Identify Your Support Network and Get Support
Contact your local domestic violence program (such as Women In Transition) for resources.
Equally important is getting help and information from your family and social support network. It can be hard sometimes to ask for help, but your safety and sobriety may depend on it. The more specific you can be with people in your life about what you need, the more likely it is that you can get the help you’re looking for.
Take Care of Yourself
Safety planning isn’t just about physical safety – it’s also about taking care of yourself emotionally. When you are tired, ask yourself if your basic needs have been met: Are you hydrated? Are you eating regular meals? Do you get adequate exercise?
Brainstorm activities that you once enjoyed or might enjoy: listening to music, taking a walk, crafting, cuddling with a pet, watching a funny movie, or talking to a friend.
There is no wrong way to do self-care; think about what feels right for you and your situation.