Steps to Developing a Safety Plan
A safety plan is a personalized, practical plan that includes ways to remain safe while in a relationship, planning to leave, or after you leave.
A good safety plan will have all of the vital information you need and be tailored to your unique situation, and will help walk you through different scenarios.
Although some of the things that you outline in your safety plan may seem obvious, it’s important to remember that in moments of crisis your brain doesn’t function the same way as when you are calm. When adrenaline is pumping through your veins it can be hard to think clearly or make logical decisions about your safety. Having a safety plan laid out in advance can help you to protect yourself in those stressful moments.
Consider speaking with an advocate (at the Beaverton Police Department or another agency) or calling a crisis line to help you develop your own safety plan.
Safety Strategies During a Violent Incident
Use these suggestions to safety plan for a violent or explosive incident.
- Try to move to a place with an exit. Avoid rooms with no outside access.
- Try to stay out of bathrooms, the kitchen, the garage, or other rooms with potential weapons.
- Practice getting out of your home safely. Identify safe exits including which door, windows, staircase, and elevator to use.
- If possible, have a bag packed that you store at a friend’s home. Think about what items you may want to store somewhere else in case you need to leave quickly.
- Devise a code word with family, friends, children, and neighbors for when you need them to call the police.
- If they’re old enough, teach your children how to call 911.
- Decide and plan where you will go if you have to leave your home.
Safety When Preparing to Leave
If you are living with an abusive person, you may decide you want to leave the relationship. Violence often escalates when abusers believe their partner is leaving the relationship, so plan safely and with care. Advocates are available to assist you.
- Choose a mailing address somewhere other than your residence. Consider getting your own post office box.
- Open a checking/savings or credit card in your own name.
- Rent a safety deposit box to store valuable belongings and documents.
- Identify a safe place where you can go – family or friends, distant relative, shelter
- Identify someone who may be able to lend you money if needed.
- Keep crisis line numbers with you at all time and call if you need to review your safety plan, find out about shelters, or just for support.
- Be careful if you are making plans over the phone. Try to use a phone that the abuser cannot access to see your call log or telephone bill. If you do make a call from your home/cell phone, call another number immediately afterward, so your abuser can’t redial the last number called.
- Refer to the checklist of important items to bring with you.
- Review your plan again and again prior to leaving.
Safety in Your Residence
These suggestions are for safety planning in your home - if you have left your abuser or if you do not live with your abuser.
- If you stay in your home, lock all windows and doors. Change all locks if possible. You may want to consider installing safety devices such as an alarm system.
- If relocating, do not tell your abuser where you live or call your abuser on your personal home or cell phone. (If you have kids together, a payas-you-go phone may be helpful if contact is necessary.)
- Request an unlisted/unpublished number from the telephone company and other utility companies.
- Have mail sent to a post office box and not your place of residence.
- Inspect the exterior of your house. Make sure that there are no items that can be used as ladders—including tree branches near windows.
- Install smoke and carbon dioxide detectors and purchase fire extinguishers.
- Keep flashlights in convenient locations.
- Keep an extra cell phone to be able to call 911. You can obtain a free 911 cell phone from the Beaverton Police Department or other domestic violence organizations.
- Teach your children how to call 911 in the event of an emergency.
Safety on the Job and in Public
Use these suggestions to create a plan for when you are at work and out in public.
- If it feels safe, inform your employer of your situation. Create a plan with your employer in case your abuser comes to your workplace. Provide security officers and/or the
- Ask for your name and phone number not to be published on your employer’s website.
- Ask for your phone calls to be screened at work.
- Use a variety of routes when going to and from home.
- If you use the bus, develop a safety plan for waiting for the bus. This may include taking an alternative route if possible.
- If you think your activities are being monitored or you are being followed, go to a police department or location other than your home.
Safety with a Protective Order
Use these suggestions for safety after obtaining a protective order.
- If you or your children have been threatened or assaulted, you can petition for a protective order through the Washington County Circuit Court in Hillsboro.
- Call the police every time your abuser violates the order.
- If it feels safe, inform your family, friends, employer, and neighbors that you have a protective order in effect.
- If you have children, consider giving them a copy of the protective order.
- If your abuser destroys your protective order, you can obtain a replacement from the courthouse where the order was granted.
Technology and Safety
Abusers often use technology to keep track of and control survivors. Think about all the types of technology you use, and create a plan around technology usage.
- Consider changing your phone numbers, emails, or social media accounts. Consider blocking your abuser’s phone numbers and emails.
- Check the privacy settings on all your social media. Abusers can often still see your personal sites through mutual friends.
- Computers can store a lot of private information about websites, emails, and instant messages. Be very cautious about your computer usage. Use a computer your abuser does not have access to when searching or reaching out for assistance-such as one at the public library, if possible. It is impossible to completely clear all of the sites you have
- Be cautious on what you use a computer for if the abuser has or had physical access to the computer, or if you have communicated at any time with the abuser using that computer. Computer monitoring software can easily be placed on a computer, allowing your abuser to view all of your computer activity. Be cautious of accessing bank and email accounts on any computer that you fear may be monitored.
- Text messages and cell phone calls may be logged into your cell phone bill. Avoid using personal phones for safety planning, if possible.
- GPS, a location tracking device, is now installed in many cell phones and in cars. Check your phone settings to see if the GPS has been activated and can be located.
Safety Planning Checklist
Use this tool as a starting point for your safety plan. Each situation is highly individualized, and you know your situation better than anyone else. Consider speaking with an advocate or calling a crisis line to help you in developing your own safety plan.