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.

*Safety and Care: Are you sheltering in place with someone who is hurting you? Here are some ideas about how to increase your safety and take care of yourself while you are at home:

*Courtesy of Futures Without Violence

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.
  • Change the passwords for your email and social media accounts, in case the abuser has obtained access to your private communications.
  • Discuss your safety plan with friends and family so that they know how to best help
  • Develop a code with your friends and family in case you need to communicate while the perpetrator is monitoring you
    • For example, “have you tried any new recipes?” could mean “please come pick me up”
  • 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.
  • Compile a contact and resource list with the phone numbers and addresses of trusted friends, family members, and local shelters.
  • Obtain a restraining order if you feel comfortable involving law enforcement.

If you are leaving the abuser, consider the following:

  • How and when can you most safely leave? Where will you go?
  • Do you know the number of the local shelter?
  • In the case of COVID-19, relocating to shelters or homes of certain friends/family may no longer be an option. Are there other places where you will be able to go?
  • Are you comfortable calling the police if you are in danger or need medical care?
  • Who can you trust to tell that you are leaving?
  • Is the abuser tracking you, monitoring your communications, and/or recording your private conversations? If the abuser is aware of any plans to leave, they may retaliate.
  • What community and legal resources will help you feel safer? Memorize their addresses and phone numbers.
  • What custody and visitation provisions will keep you and your children safe?
  • Is a restraining order a viable option?
  • If possible, open a savings account in your own name. Give the bank a safe address that you know the abuser does not have access to, 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.
  • Has COVID-19 impacted your options for fleeing? Update your list accordingly.
  • How you can communicate with others in a private way that avoids possible retaliation from the abuser. If possible, develop a code that you can use with friends and family when discussing the abuse and/or seeking help.
  • If the abuser is monitoring your communications, such as listening to your calls or reading your messages. It is highly likely that the abuser has access to all of your modes of communication, such as text, social media, and WhatsApp. If you are able to have a conversation you know is private with a person you trust, develop a code.
    • For example, in future communications, “banana bread” could mean “please call the first person on my safety plan list to come pick me up.”
  • How will you travel safely to and from work or school or to pick up children?
  • If you are comfortable calling the police, would you call the police if you are in danger or need medical attention? 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. Memorize the addresses and phone numbers, if possible.
  • 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 relationship abuse coming from your home. If you do not wish to involve law enforcement, discuss alternatives with them.
  • Have a “code word” to use with your children, family, friends, and neighbors. Ask them to call the police when you say that word, if you feel comfortable involving law enforcement.
  • 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.