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DOMESTIC VIOLENCE SAFETY PLAN

A Safety Plan for Children


Editor's note: If you or a woman you care about are being abused, this safety plan offered by battered women's advocate Marilyn Brown can help prepare. This SAFETY PLAN is copyright 1996 by Marilyn Brown. Any non-profit use of this material is welcome. For any other use of all or any part of this PLAN written permission must be obtained. To request reprint permission email Marilyn Brown.

There are three basic elements to a safety plan:

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SAFETY: While in the Home With the Abuser

  • Attempt to hide or remove from the home all guns and ammunition.
  • If an abusive incident seems imminent, attempt to leave the home.
  • If leaving is impossible,
    • Attempt to avoid the kitchen, bathrooms or other areas where sharp objects and large glass surfaces, fire, caustic chemicals or boiling water are present.
    • Attempt to create a "temporary safe area" inside the home.
    • If possible, keep a phone in the temporary safe area; a cellular phone is ideal since the wires cannot be cut or jerked out of the wall.
    • Try to arrange a "signal" that will alert your neighbors to call the police-- a blind pulled up and down or a scarf hung out a window will do.
    • Ask your neighbors to call the police if they hear sounds of violence coming from your home.
    • If it is safe to do so, teach your children to call the police when an abusive incident is in progress.
  • If possible, keep a diary
    • List all abusive incidents, include the date and time, a description of the incident
    • List any threats made before, during or after the incident and any injuries suffered.
    • If the police were called include the name and badge number of the officers and their response.
    • If medical treatment was received include the name of the doctor and hospital or facility, the treatment given and whether photographs were taken of the injuries.
    • Try to get a copy of all police and medical reports and, if possible, pictures of all injuries. Keep this information in a safe place outside your home if possible; if it must be kept inside the home try to keep it somewhere the abuser will not find it.
    • If possible open and maintain your own bank account. Use a bank other than the one the abuser banks at.
    • Plan where you can go if you have to flee your home. Write the phone number of your local DV hotline or program on your emergency phone list.
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SAFETY: Escaping from the Home

  • Keep with you at all times
    • emergency phone numbers (police, DV hotline, DV shelter, friends),
    • change to make calls,
    • keys to your car (make sure to park your car in such a way that it cannot be blocked in).
  • Pack a bag; include
    • A change of clothes for yourself and your children;
    • A spare set of keys (house, car, office and safety deposit box);
    • A supply of any necessary medication; an extra pair of eyeglasses;
    • jewelry; irreplaceable items of sentimental value and extra cash.
  • If possible keep the bag in a safe place outside the house where you can retrieve it quickly.
  • If it must be kept inside the house keep it somewhere you can get quickly.
  • Documents; if possible,
    • keep the documents in a safe-deposit box that the abuser doesn't know about
    • or with a person who will keep them for you and from whom you can retrieve them quickly and safely.
    • If you must keep the documents inside the house, try to have them all in one easily retrieved and portable file box:
    • Include the following documents:
      • Identification - including birth certificates for you and your children;
      • Social Security cards; driver's license, registration and auto insurance card; welfare, Medicaid, food stamp identification; passports, green cards,work permits.
      • School and medical records (especially vaccination records for the children);
      • prescriptions for required medications and eyeglasses; medical reports documenting any prior abuse of you or the children.
      • Legal papers - divorce, custody and restraining orders; police reports of prior abuse; lease/rental agreement or house deed; insurance papers; wills.
      • Financial documents - money, bankbooks and credit and ATM cards (remember if the cards are issued jointly to you and your spouse he can report them lost or stolen and have them canceled;
        he can also use receipts to track your movements); recent tax returns; pay stubs; statements from banks, brokerage firms and other proof of income and assets.
      • Other - address book; diary of previous abuse.
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SAFETY: After Leaving the Abusive Relationship

  • If you obtain a protective order against your abuser, keep the order with you at all times as well as the telephone number of whatever agency is responsible for enforcing the order in your jurisdiction.
  • If you are remaining in the home you shared with the abuser,
    • Make sure to change all locks, including locks to garage and sliding glass doors
    • Make sure any alarm system access code is changed and be sure to delete all previous access codes
    • If the abuser has keys to your car, change the locks on the car.
    • Consider installing steel doors, alarm systems, outside lighting and other security features.
  • Inform your neighbors that you have left an abusive relationship and have a protective order against the abuser; ask them to call the police if they see the abuser near you or your home.
  • Inform your employer and/or co-workers that you have a protective order against your abuser; ask them to call the police if they see the abuser near you or your workplace.
    • If the abuser is harassing you with calls at work try to arrange to have your calls screened and the harassment documented.
    • If your company employs security guards, ask to be walked to your car when leaving work
  • If you rent your home or apartment and the abuser is named on the lease, ask the landlord to remove the abuser's name from the lease.
  • If you have custody of your children and do not want the abuser to be permitted to pick them up at school, inform the school of the situation and specify in writing who is permitted to pick up the children.
  • If the abuser has visitation rights with the children, arrange for the children to be picked up and dropped off somewhere other than your home, or have other people present when the abuser picks up and drops off the children.
  • If you are being stalked or harassed by the abuser, inform the police and the court that granted the protective order.
  • Avoid using the same bank, supermarket, dry cleaner, church and other businesses or services that the abuser patronizes.

  • If you decide to move to escape from harassment or stalking by the abuser, remember that it is relatively easy for a detective to locate people unless the person has made major changes and expended great effort to make themselves difficult to find. Discuss your plans with your local battered women's program and/or an attorney to insure that the abuser will not be able to easily locate you.
For Help and information on a local shelter, 24 hours a day, call:
1-800-799-7233 / TDD: 1-800-787-3224 Texas Coalition Against Family Violence

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This safety plan (and other resources for children) is available at ACADV.org


A Child's Own Safety Plan
Print out this page and fill it in by hand. Keep it with you to read in times of crisis.

My Safety Plan


When I get scared I can think about
__________________________________________________________________

When I get scared I can go to
__________________________________________________________________

When I am feeling down or afraid I can talk to
__________________________________________________________________

These are the safe exits from my house
__________________________________________________________________

In an emergency I can
__________________________________________________________________

My Important Numbers


My phone number _______________________________

The police _______________________________

A neighbor, friend or relative's number _______________________________


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RESOURCES ONLINE

The American Bar Association's Page (you will need to choose a link from there but they have legal help for domestic violence)

The Family Violence Prevention Fund

The Montgomery Work/Life Alliance's Workplace Domestic Violence Manual

Safe Horizon's Domestic Violence Shelter Tour and Information Site

The United States Department of Justice's Violence Against Women Office

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