The following interview guidelines can help elicit a safety plan based upon a survivor’s strengths and experience. The safety plan should be conducted by a trained counselor/advocate.
- Ask questions that help you to learn about useful coping strategies and resources. Ask what the person has done in the past and what the outcome was.
- As the person tells their story, be sure to acknowledge out loud times they showed courage, resourcefulness or strength. Note, for instance, how remarkable it is that, in spite of the abuse and how they might be feeling, they get up in the morning, go to classes and do well, hold down a job, maintain friendships or whatever “every day thing” the individual accomplishes.
- Ask specific questions about coping and self care — what activities, places or people can and/or have functioned as an oasis for them, and is it possible to build on that oasis experience.
- Let them know that they have a right to feel the way they do, whether it is overwhelmed, terrified, angry, bitter, exhausted, tearful, desperate or some other emotion.
- Let the person know that you know how much courage and strength it is taking for them to be talking with you about their situation.
- Ask specific questions about support people — does anyone in the individual’s life know about the violence? Can they think of even just one person whom they would trust to start talking to about their situation? How have the other people in their life reacted to the situation?
- When it is feasible, work with the individual on a plan to further develop the strengths that have been identified.
For more information on safety planning, click here.