Having a safety plan can be a way to increase your own as well as your children’s safety if there is a risk that you could experience abuse.
You do not have control over your abuser’s violence, but you can map out action steps to increase your safety and prepare in advance for the possibility of future violence/ harassment. Our support counsellors can offer information, ideas and suggestions for a woman to think about. They will encourage a woman to take it a step at a time and start with ideas that seem realistic and right for her.
REMEMBER that many women have escaped and survived abusive situations.
Our support counsellors will help a woman keep in mind that it is important to review and/or update her safety plan regularly, because abusive situations and risks can change very quickly. Safety plans can be developed for many different situations. Our support counsellors are trained to help women identify their own personal safety plan needs. Here are some suggestions to consider about:
If you can, bring what you use every day:
- An extra set of keys for the apartment or house and vehicle
- Small bills and change for taxis and telephone calls
- Identification papers (or copies) for yourself and your children: passport, social insurance card, birth certificates, immigration papers, citizenship card, aboriginal status card, driver’s licence and registration, health cards and children’s immunization records
- Divorce and custody papers
- Restraining orders, peace bonds, any other court orders
- Bank books, cheque book, credit cards, mortgage or loan papers (or copies)
- Lease/rental agreement, property deed, business or partnership agreements, rent or mortgage payment receipts
- Address book
- Photograph of your abuser to help identify him/her
- Clothing for yourself and your children
- Cell phone/laptop
- Infant or car seat
- Favourite toy/blanket
- A list of other items you can pick up later
- Establish a code word with the children to let them know you are in danger and to contact police immediately and protect themselves during a violent incident.
- Plan an escape route and avoid places where weapons such as knives or guns are kept.
- Have a small bag with essentials kept with a person you trust, away from your home.
If you are living with your abusive partner:
- Get your Emergency Escape Plan in order and review it often.
- Create a list of telephone numbers including local police, nearest women’s shelter, Assaulted Women’s Help Line, family members, friends, counsellors, children’s friends, etc.
- Make arrangements with friends or family so that you can stay with them if necessary.
- If you have call display on your phone, be careful about who can access stored numbers (such as the last number you dialled or received a call from).
- Consider a plan for the safety and wellbeing of your pet(s) such as making arrangements with friends or family.
If you are not living with your abusive partner:
- Instruct your family and friends not to tell anyone where you are or how to contact you.
- Change the locks on the doors, windows, garage and mailbox.
- Install a peephole in the door that your children can see through as well. If possible, install an alarm system.
- Keep doors and windows locked at all times.
- Have a pre-recorded anonymous message on your telephone answering service rather than your own voice and do not identify yourself by name.
- Carry a cell phone and a personal alarm.
- If your partner violates the protection order or is threatening you in any way, immediately call the police to report the violation.
- Make sure that the school, day care, and police have a copy of all court orders, including restraining orders, custody and access orders, as well as a picture of the abusive partner.
- Request the police to put a “premise history” on your address on file. This will provide additional information and security for officers responding to your call and alert them.
- Tell your neighbours that you would like them to call the police if they hear a fight or screaming in your home.
- Help your child(ren) understand their safety.
- Teach your children to tell you if someone is at the door and to not answer the door themselves.
- Show them how to get to a safe place.
- Teach your child(ren) how to use your cell phone.
- Teach your child(ren) how to use 911 and that it is important for children to leave the phone off the hook after they are done talking.
- Ensure that the children know their full name and address.
- Rehearse what your child(ren) will say when they call for help.
- Pick a safe place to meet your children.
- Tell people who take care of your children, including schools and daycares, which people have permission to pick up your children.
- Talk with your child(ren) about the risk of sharing personal information online.
- Tell your boss/colleague of your situation, ask that they refrain from giving anyone personal information about you, and show them a picture of your abuser.
- Use your voicemail to screen calls or request that calls from your (ex)partner are screened.
- Request that emails are blocked.
- Enter and leave work with a colleague.
- Let someone know when you’ll be home and when to expect you to arrive at work, and that you will call them when you have safely arrived.
- If you are walking, take a route that is populated and well-lit.
- Carry your car keys in your hand and be aware of your surroundings.
- If your partner is following you, drive to the police station.
- Create strong, safe passwords
- When using the computer, be aware that your abuser may track the websites you have visited. For information on hiding your tracks
- Do not share personal information.
- Block unwanted people from online social networking
- Take measures to avoid identity theft.