WHAT IS A SAFETY PLAN
A safety plan is vital for anyone who is in an abusive relationship. The reason is that when one is in a crisis it can be difficult for that person to think logically in such a tense, high-stress, fight or flight situation. Thus, it is important to think about and prepare yourself for an escape before it is necessary.
A safety plan ensures that when you decide to leave, you can do so quickly and safely with all the necessary items with you, such as proper identification for you and your children, and ability to access resources, support and the protection of law.
A safety plan also helps guide you in the early, difficult stages of building a life again without your abuser. Safety plans have methods on dealing with your safety before, while and after leaving. Safety plans ensure that everything is in place prior to leaving, so that there is no need to go back and place your safety at risk.
Please plan carefully so that the abuser does not suspect that you are planning on leaving them, as this may be very dangerous to you if they find out. You must act as normally as possible to limit their suspicions. Your safety plan should include the following:
- Let your neighbors know your situation, as they are the closest people to you, so that if in need they can come to aid you and call the police for you.
- Talk to your children and let them know that violence has no place at home or anywhere and their safety and your safety are the first priority.
- Prepare a code word so that you and children can be able to communicate without your abuser being aware. A code word with your children helps them know that you are in danger, with plans on what to do when the code word is used whether it is to leave the house, to get help or both.
- Plan a safe place for you and your children to go when you need to leave. If possible, have multiple safe places in mind, including local shelters in case you need a backup plan, for example if none of your personal contacts are available.
- Plan ahead how you are going to get out of your home safely and pack your everyday essential items into a bag and hide it in a safe place.
Your essential items should include:
- Having your own separate bank account (with statements sent to another trusted address) and carry cash on you if you can
- Spare keys to important things if it’s possible (house keys, car keys, etc.)
- Identification papers (i.e. birth certificate, passport, OHIP, immunization records, social insurance, bank cards, driver’s license and registration)
- Insurance papers, lease, property deeds, rent or mortgage receipts
- Full change of clothing for you and for your child(ren)
- Kids toys and blankets
- A photo of your partner for identification purposes
- If you can afford it, get a separate secret cellphone only for the purpose of safety planning that is fully charged and always on silent mode. This phone should only have important numbers programmed in your speed dial.
Make sure you always practice your safety plan periodically with your children so that they are ready and prepared as well.
After leaving your abuser, the safety plan ensures that you have all your core needs in order to build a new life. It also ensures that your safety can extend beyond just leaving, but being fully able to remove your abuser from your life.
It is necessary for your safety to speak with a variety of people in order to ensure that your abuser cannot contact you again:
- Speak to the police, and report your case to them
- Speak to your children’s school, let them know that only people you allow can come in contact with them, provide them with the restraining order if you have one
- If it necessary, speak to your workplace, let them know your abuser cannot come and contact you
- Let your family and friends know, so that they do not provide him information about you
- Do not go to places where your abuser is aware that you often go to
- Go to places where he is unaware of, if you cannot find a place, go to a shelter where they can provide you will support and resources
- Avoid people who are close to your abuser, as you do not want them to provide him with information about you
- Seek legal help for child custody
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