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What is a personalized safety plan?

A safety plan is a customized list of practical actions to keep you safe from abuse. 


It's important to have a thoughtful plan in place prior to an abuse incident because your brain functions differently when you're in crisis mode, as opposed to when you're calm.

You will want to tailor your plan to your circumstances:

  • Are you in an abusive relationship, planning to leave, or have you already left?

  • Do you have children, are you pregnant, or do you have pets?

  • A specific plan can help protect yourself and them in crisis moments.

Planning to leave an abusive relationship

Violence often escalates when someone tries to leave an abusive relationship. Remember: domestic violence and abuse is about power and control. When someone decides to leave the relationship, the abuser may become triggered, angry and try to re-assert dominance and control.


For these reasons, the period around separation can be the most critical time to have a plan in place.

Although you do not have control over your partner’s violence, you do have a choice about how to respond to him or her and how to best get yourself and your children and pets to safety.

Tips for Safety Planning

First and foremost, if you believe you are in danger, call 911.

In addition, consider obtaining a Domestic Violence Restraining Order.

During your safety planning, consider the following:

While Living With or Preparing to Leave an Abusive Partner

  • Identify safe areas of the house from which to escape - doors, windows, stairwells, or elevators.

  • Practice getting out safely.

  • Keep your car keys and purse or wallet near your escape area.

  • Organize and prepare important documents (driver's license, birth certificate, social security cards, passport, financial records, etc.) Make copies.

  • Keep weapons like guns and knives locked away.

  • Keep your car backed into your driveway and keep it fueled.

  • Tell a neighbor about the violence so they can call the police if they hear suspicious noises.

  • Tell a trusted friend or relative about your situation in advance, in case you have to leave your home without access to funds for a hotel or other lodging.

  • Consider leaving money, an extra set of keys, and a change of clothes with a trusted friend or relative. Find out who will let you stay with them. Try to set money aside.

  • Instruct your children that although they want to protect their parent, they should never intervene.

  • Teach your children how to use a phone and how to contact 911.

  • If violence is unavoidable, make yourself a small target. Curl up into a ball. Protect your face with your arms around each side of your head, fingers entwined.

  • If you're injured, go to a doctor or emergency room. Ask them to document your visit.

  • Consider attending counseling or support groups.

  • Keep any evidence of abuse, including a journal of incidents with dates.

After Leaving an Abusive Partner

  • Reschedule appointments that the abuser might know about.

  • Change your log in information for all social media, email, and other accounts.

  • Install an outside lighting system, alarm system, and or surveillance cameras at your home.

  • Change locks.

  • Make a list of trusted friends and family who you can call for emotional support.

  • If you have a Protection Order or Domestic Violence Restraining Order, keep a copy in your purse or wallet.

  • Give copies of the restraining order to employers, neighbors and schools along with a picture of the offender.

  • Participate in counseling and support groups.





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