A Violence Free Tomorrow Is Our Vision Today

Safety Planning

STEP 1: SAFETY DURING A VIOLENT INCIDENT. Victims cannot always avoid violent incidents. In order to increase safety, victims may use a variety of strategies. 
I can use some or all of the following strategies: 
1. If I decide to leave, I will ____________________. (Practice how to get out safely. What doors, windows, elevators, stairwells or fire escapes would you use?) 
2. I can keep my purse and car keys ready and put them (place)____________________ in order to leave quickly. 
3. I can tell ___________________ about the violence and request they call the police if they hear suspicious noises coming from my house.
4. I can teach my children how to call 911 or 0 to contact the police and the fire department. 
5. I will use ____________________ as my code word with my children or my friends so they can call for help. 
6. If I have to leave my home, I will go to ____________________. (Decide this even if you don't think there will be a next time). 
7. If I cannot go to the location above, then I can go to ____________________ or ____________________. 
8. I can also teach some of these strategies to some/all of my children. 
9. When I expect we are going to have an argument, I will try to move to a space that is lowest risk, such as ____________________. (Try to avoid the bathroom, garage, kitchen, other rooms with weapons, or rooms without access to an outside door.) 
10. I will use my judgment and intuition. If the situation is very serious, I can give my partner what is necessary to calm down. I have to protect myself until I/we are out of danger. 
STEP 2: SAFETY WHEN PREPARING TO LEAVE. Victims frequently leave the residence they share with the abusive partner. Leaving must be done strategically in order to increase safety. Abusers often strike back when they believe their partner is leaving the relationship. 
I can use some or all of the following safety strategies: 
1. I will leave money and an extra set of keys with ____________________ so I can leave quickly. 
2. I will keep copies of important documents or keys at ____________________. 
3. I will open a savings account by (date) ____________________ to increase my independence. 
4. I will have bank statements of the account go to ____________________. 
5. Other things I can do to increase my independence include:____________________. 
6. The Clarina Howard Nichols Center hotline number is 802-888-5256. 
7. I can keep change for phone calls on me at all times. I understand that if I use my cell phone, the next month's bill will tell my abuser those numbers I called after I left. To keep my telephone communications confidential, I must either use a pay phone or might get a friend to let me use their cell phone for a limited time when I first leave. 
8. I will check with ____________________ and ____________________ to see who would be able to let me stay with them or lend me some money. 
9. I can leave extra clothes with ____________________. 
10. I will sit down and review my safety plan every ____________________ in order to plan the safest way to leave the residence. ____________________ (domestic violence advocate or friend) has agreed to help me review this 
11. I will rehearse my escape plan and, as appropriate, practice it with my children. 
STEP 3: SAFETY IN MY OWN RESIDENCE. There are many things a victim can do to increase their safety in her own residence. It may be impossible to do everything at once, but safety measures can be added step by step. 
Safety measures I can use include: 
1. I can change the locks on my doors and windows as soon as possible. 
2. I can replace wooden doors with steel/metal doors. 
3. I can install security systems including additional locks, window bars, poles to wedge against doors, an electronic system, etc. 
4. I can change the code on my old security system, or I can periodically change the code on my new one so my abuser does not learn it. 
5. I can install a new garage door opener. 
6. I can purchase rope ladders to be used to escape from second floor windows. 
7. I can install smoke detectors and purchase fire extinguishers for each floor in my house/apartment. 
8. I can install an outside lighting system that lights up when a person is coming close to my house. 
9. I will teach my children how to use the telephone to make a collect call to me and to ____________________ (friend/minister/family/other) in the event that my partner abducts the children. 
10. I will tell people who take care of my children who has permission to pick up my children and that my partner is not permitted to do so. The people I will inform about pick-up permission include:
School ___________________
Day Care Staff _________________
Baby-sitter __________________
Sunday School Teacher ____________________
Others ____________________ 
11. I can inform (neighbor) ____________________, (pastor) 
____________________, and (friend) ____________________ that my 
partner no longer resides with me, and they should call the police if he is seen 
near my residence. 
STEP 4: SAFETY WITH A PROTECTION ORDER. Many abusers obey protection orders, but one can never be sure which violent partner will obey and which will violate protection orders. I recognize that I may need to ask the police and the courts to enforce my protection order. 
The following are some steps I can take to enforce my protection order: 
1. I will keep my protection order ____________________ (location). (Always keep it on or near your person. If you change purses, that's the first thing that should go in.)
2. I will give my protection order to police departments in the community where I work, in those communities where I usually visit family or friends, and in the community where I live. 
3. I can call Clarina at 888-5256 if I am not sure about #2 above or if I have some problem with my protection order. 
4. I will inform my employer, my minister, my closest friend, and 
____________________ and ____________________ that I have a protection order in effect. 
5. If my partner destroys my protection order, I can get another certified copy from the courthouse by going to the Clerk of Courts located at ____________________. 
6. If my partner violates the protection order, I can call the police and report a violation, contact my attorney, and/or advise the court of the violation. 
7. If the police do not help, I can contact my advocate or attorney and file a complaint with the chief of police. 
8. I can also file a criminal complaint with the prosecutor in the jurisdiction where the violation occurred. I can charge my abusive partner with a violation of the protection order and all the crimes committed in violating the order. I can call Clarina at 888-5256 to help me with this. 
STEP 5: SAFETY ON THE JOB AND IN PUBLIC. Each victim must decide if and when she will tell others that her partner has abused her and that she may be at continued risk. Friends, family, and co-workers can help protect you. Each victim should carefully consider which people to ask to help her secure safety. 
I might do any or all of the following: 
1. I can inform my boss, the security supervisor and ____________________ at work of my situation. 
2. I can ask ____________________ to help screen my phone calls at work. 
3. When driving home, if problems occur I can ____________________. 
4. If I use public transit, I can ____________________. 
5. I can use different grocery stores and shopping malls to conduct my business, and I can shop at different hours than I did when living with my abuser. 
6. I can also ____________________. 
STEP 6: SAFETY AND DRUG OR ALCOHOL CONSUMPTION. Most people in this culture consume alcohol. Many consume mood-altering drugs. Much of this consumption is legal, and some is not. The legal ramifications of using illegal drugs can be very hard on a victim, may hurt her relationship with their children, and may put her at a disadvantage in other legal actions with her abusive partner. Therefore, victims should carefully consider the potential cost of the use of illegal drugs. But beyond this, the use of any alcohol or other drugs can reduce a victim's awareness and ability to act quickly to protect herself from their abuser. Furthermore, the abuser may use alcohol or drug consumption as an excuse to be violent. Therefore, in the context of drug or alcohol use, a victim needs to make specific safety plans. 
If drug or alcohol consumption has occurred in my relationship with my abuser, I can enhance my safety with some or all of the following: 
1. If I am going to consume, I can do so in a safe place and with people who understand the risk of violence and are committed to my safety. 
2. I can also ____________________. 
3. If my partner is consuming, I can ____________________. 
4. I might also ____________________. 
5. To safeguard my children, I might ____________________ and ____________________. 
STEP 7: SAFETY AND MY EMOTIONAL HEALTH. The experience of being abused and verbally degraded by partners is usually exhausting and emotionally draining. The process of building a new life for myself takes much courage and incredible energy. 
To conserve my emotional energy and resources and to avoid hard emotional times, I can do some of the following: 
1. If I feel down and ready to return to a potentially abusive situation, I can ____________________. 
2. When I have to communicate with my partner in person or by telephone, I can ____________________. 
3. I can try to use "I can…" statements with myself and to be assertive with others. 
4. I can tell myself " ____________________ " whenever I feel others are trying to control or abuse me. 
5. I can read ____________________ to help me feel stronger. 
6. I can call ____________________ and ____________________ as other resources to be of support to me. 
7. Other things I can do to help me feel stronger are _____________________. 
8. I can attend support groups at Clarina, or I can ____________________ or ____________________ to gain support and 
strengthen my relationships with other people 
STEP 8: ITEMS TO TAKE WHEN LEAVING. When victims leave partners, it is important to take certain items with them. Beyond this, victims sometimes give an extra copy of papers and an extra set of clothing to a friend just in case they have to leave quickly. Items which are in italics are the most important to take. If there is time, the other items might be taken or stored outside the home. These items might be best placed in one location so that if we have to leave in a hurry, I can grab them quickly.  When I leave, I should try to take: 
• Identification 
• Children's birth certificates 
• My birth certificate 
• Social security cards 
• Abuser's social security and 
license plate numbers 
• School and vaccination 
• Money 
• Checkbooks, ATM card 
• Credit cards 
• Keys—house/car/office 
• Driver's license and 
• Medications 
• Work Permits 
• Green Card 
• Welfare identification 
• Passport(s) 
• Divorce/Custody Papers 
• Medical records—for all family 
• Lease/rental agreement, house deed, 
mortgage payment book 
• Bank books 
• Insurance papers 
• Small objects I could sell 
• Address book 
• Pictures 
• Jewelry 
• Children's favorite toys and/or blanket 
• Items of special sentimental value 
Police department (home) ___________________________________________ 
Police department (school) __________________________________________ 
Police department (work) ____________________________________________ 
Work number _____________________________________________________ 
Supervisor's home number __________________________________________ 
Spiritual advisor ___________________________________________________
The Animal Welfare Institute offers additional resources on safety planning with animals: Safety Planning: Pets and Domestic Violence
BEFORE LEAVING, remember the following items:
Pet's vaccination and medical records
- License that proves you own your animal
- Bowls, bedding, toys, grooming supplies, a favorite blanket, etc.

- Identification tag without home address;  with a phone number (cell number, a trusted fnend, or your  


- Dog leashes / collar

- Cat carriers (unconfined cats easily escape.  If you don't have a carrier, a pillowcase can work in

  an emergency)

- Medication, if any

- A photo and Information sheet on feeding schedules, medical conditions, schedules, and any

  possible behavior problems to give to your selected, temporary caretaker


Planning Ahead:

- SAF-T space at Clarina is limited -call the hotline to discuss current available SAF-T rooms.  

- Find a safe place ahead of time by talking with safe friends and famIly that you trust who might be

  willing to care for you pets temporarily.

- Consider local safe havens or boarding options for pets, and check their confidentiality policies.

- Know your pets' hiding spot so you don't have to spend time looking for them in an emergency.