This page includes ideas about how you can increase safety if you are living alone, if you are staying with the abuser, if you are leaving the abuser, or if you are experiencing an attack.
If you had the perpetrator evicted or are living alone, you may want to:
- Change locks on doors and windows.
- Install a security system — window bars, locks, better lighting, smoke detectors and fire extinguishers.
- Teach the children to call the police or family and friends if they are snatched.
- Talk to schools and childcare providers about who has permission to pick up the children.
- Find a lawyer knowledgeable about family violence to explore custody, visitation and divorce provisions that protect you and your children.
- Obtain a restraining order.
If you are leaving the abuser, consider the following:
- How and when can you most safely leave? Where will you go?
- Are you comfortable calling the police if you need them?
- Who can you trust to tell that you are leaving?
- How will you travel safely to and from work or school or to pick up children?
- What community and legal resources will help you feel safer? Write down their addresses and phone numbers, and keep them handy.
- Do you know the number of the local shelter?
- What custody and visitation provisions will keep you and your children safe?
- Is a restraining order a viable option?
- Open a savings account in your own name. Give the bank a safe address, like a post office box or your work address.
- Leave money, an extra set of keys, and copies of your important papers with someone you trust. You may need to leave home fast, and you’ll need these things later.
If you are staying with the abuser, think about:
- What works best to keep you safe in an emergency.
- Who you can call in a crisis.
- If you would call the police if the violence starts again. Can you work out a signal with the children or the neighbors to call the police when you need help?
- If you need to flee temporarily, where would you go? Think though several places where you can go in a crisis. Write down the addresses and phone numbers, and keep them with you.
- If you need to flee your home, know the escape routes in advance.
Have the following available in case you have to flee:
- Important papers such as birth certificates, social security cards, marriage and driver’s licenses, car title, lease or mortgage papers, passports, insurance information, school and health records, welfare and immigration documents, and divorce or other court documents
- Credit cards, bank account number, and ATM cards
- Some money
- An extra set of keys
- Medications and prescriptions
- Phone numbers and addresses for family, friends, doctors, lawyers, and community agencies
- Clothing and comfort items for you and the children
Before and during an attack do the following:
- Stay close to a door or window so you can get out if you need to.
- Stay away from the bathroom, the kitchen, and weapons.
- Practice your escape. Know which doors, windows, elevator, or stairs would be best.
- Have a packed bag ready. Hide it in a place that you can get to quickly.
- Identify neighbors you can tell about the violence. Ask them to call the police if they hear signs of domestic violence coming from your home.
- Have a “code word” to use with your children, family, friends, and neighbors. Ask them to call the police when you say that word.
- Know where to go if you have to leave home, even if you don’t think you’ll have to.
- Trust your instincts. Do whatever you have to do to survive.
Personal Safety Plan courtesy of the Futures Without Violence.