Safety Plan for Abused Victims
SAFETY AT HOME
Develop a safety plan and discuss it with your children. Review the plan as often as possible. Change the locks and install devices to secure your windows. Make sure your children’s school, day-care center, or camp knows who is authorized to pick up your children. Tell your neighbors and landlord that your abuser no longer lives there and ask them to call the police if they see him or her near your home. Before you resume a potentially abusive relationship, discuss alternatives with someone you trust.
SAFETY IN PUBLIC OR AT WORK
If you have an order of protection, keep it with you at all times. Inform building security and coworkers you trust of your situation. If possible, provide a photograph of your abuser to building security. Vary your routes to and from work and arrange for someone to escort you to your car, bus, or train. Plan what to do in various situations if the abuser confronts you.
SAFETY DURING VOLATILE DOMESTIC VIOLENCE INCIDENT
If an argument seems unavoidable, move to a room or area with easy access to an exit – not a bathroom, kitchen, or anywhere near weapons. Identify which door, window, stairwell or elevator offers the quickest way out of the home – and practice your route. Have a bag packed and ready. Keep it in an undisclosed but accessible place where you can retrieve it quickly. Find neighbors you can tell about the violence and ask that they call the police if they hear a disturbance. Devise a code word to use with your children, family, and friends when you need the police. Decide where you will go if you have to leave, even if you do not think it will come to that. Use your instincts and judgment. Consider giving the abuser what he or she wants to defuse a dangerous situation. You have a right to protect yourself when you are in danger. You do not deserve to be battered or threatened.
PERSONALIZED SAFETY PLAN
The following steps represent my plan for increasing my safety and preparing in advance for the possibility for further violence. Although I do not have control over my partner’s violence, I do have a choice about how to respond to him/her and how to best get myself and my children to safety.
STEP 1 – SAFETY DURING A VIOLENT INCIDENT
Women cannot always avoid violent incidents. In order to increase safety, battered women may use a variety of strategies.
I can use some or all of the following strategies:
A. If I decide to leave, I will ___________________. (Practice how to get out safely. What doors, windows, elevators, stairwells or fire escapes would you use?)
B. I can keep my purse and car keys ready and put them ___________ _______________________ (place) in order to leave quickly.
C. I can tell _____________________________________________about the violence and request they call the police if they hear suspicious noises coming from my house.
D. I can teach my children how to use the telephone to contact the police and the fire department.
E. I will use ___________________________________________ as my code for my children or my friends so they can call for help.
F. If I have to leave my home, I will go __________________________ ___________________________________ (Decide this even if you don’t think there will be a next time). If I cannot go to the location above, then I can go to ___________________________________________________________ or ________________________________________________________.
G. I can also teach some of these strategies to some/all of my children.
H. When I expect we are going to have an argument, I will try to move to a space that is lowest risk, such as ________________________ ____________________________________. (Try to avoid arguments in the bathroom, garage, and kitchen, near weapons or in rooms without access to an outside door).
I. I will use my judgment and intuition. If the situation is very serious, I can give my partner what he/she wants to calm him/her down. I have to protect myself until I/we are out of danger.
STEP 2 – SAFETY WHEN PREPARING TO LEAVE
Battered women frequently leave the residence they share with the battering partner. Leaving must be done with a careful plan in order to increase safety. Batterers often strike back when they believe that a battered woman is leaving the relationship.
I can use some or all the following safety strategies:
A. I will leave money and an extra set of keys with___________________ so that I can leave quickly.
B. I will keep copies of important papers and documents or an extra set of keys at ___________________________________________.
C. I will open a savings account by ___________________________, to increase my independence.
Other things I can do to increase my independence include:
A. The domestic violence program’s hot line telephone number is ___________________________ and I can seek shelter by calling this hot line.
B. I can keep change for phone calls on me at all times. I understand that if I use my telephone credit card, the following month the telephone bill will tell my batterer those numbers that I called after I left. To keep my telephone communications confidential, I must either use coins or I might get a friend to permit me to use their telephone credit card for a limited time when I first leave.
C. I will check with ______________________________________________ and ______________________________ to see who would be able to let me stay with them or lend me some money in an emergency.
D. I can leave extra clothes with__________________________________.
E. I will sit down and review my safety plan every ___________________ in order to plan the safest way to leave the residence.
F. ______________________________________________ (domestic violence advocate or friend) has agreed to help me review this plan.
G. I will rehearse my escape plan and, as appropriate, practice it with my children.
STEP 3 – SAFETY IN MY OWN RESIDENCE
There are many things that a woman can do to increase her safety in her own residence. It may be impossible to do everything at once, but safety measures can be added step by step.
Safety measures I can use include:
A. I can change the locks on my doors and windows as soon as possible.
B. I can replace wooden doors with steel/metal doors.
C. I can install security systems including additional locks, window bars, poles to wedge against doors, an electronic system, etc.
D. I can purchase rope ladders to be used for escape from second floor windows.
E. I can install smoke detectors and purchase fire extinguishers for each floor in my house/apartment.
F. I can install an outside lighting system that lights up when a person is coming close to my house.
G. I will teach my children how to use the telephone to make a collect call to me and to _________________________ (friend/minister/other) in the event that my partner takes the children.
H. I will tell people who take care of my children which people have permission to pick up my children and that my partner is not permitted to do so. The people I will inform about pick-up permission include:
I. __________________________________________ (school),
__________________________________________ (day care staff),
__________________________________________ (Sunday School teacher),
J. I can inform ___________________________________________, and
_____________________________ (neighbors), _______________________ (pastor),
and,___________________________ (friend) that my partner no longer resides with me and they should call the police if he is observed near my residence
K. I can find out my risks with Rate Your Risk Tests.
STEP 4 – SAFETY WITH AN ORDER OF PROTECTION
Many battered women obey protection orders, but one can never be sure which violent partner will obey and which will violate protection orders. I recognize that I may need to ask the police and the court to enforce my protection order.
The following are some steps that I can take to help the enforcement of my protection order:
A. I will keep my protection order____________________________________ (location) (Always keep it on or near your person. If you change purses that are the first thing that should go in).
B. I will give my protection order to police departments in the communities where I usually visit family or friends and in the community where I live.
C. The Clark County Sheriff is the county registry of protection orders that all police departments can call to confirm a protection order. I can check to make sure that my order is in registry. The telephone number for the county registry of protection order is _________________________________.
D. For further safety, if I often visit other counties in Indiana, I might file my protection order with the court in those counties.
E. I can call the local domestic violence program if I have questions or if I have some problem with my protection order.
F. I will inform my employer, my minister, my closest friend, my relatives, and _______________________________________________________________and ___________________________________________that I have a protection order in effect.
G. If my partner destroys my protection order, I can get another copy from the Clark County Courthouse by going to the Circuit Court Clerk’s Office, or by contacting the Domestic Violence Unit of the Clark County Prosecuting Attorney.
H. If my partner violates the protection order, I can call the police and report a violation, contact my attorney, call my advocate, and/or advise the court of the violation.
I. If the police do no help, I can contact my advocate or attorney and will file a complaint with the chief of the police department.
J. I can also file a private criminal complaint with the Prosecuting Attorney in the jurisdiction where the violation occurred. I can request that charges be filed against my battering partner for violation of the Protective Order and all the crimes that he commits in violating the order. I can call the domestic violence advocate for help.
STEP 5 – SAFETY ON THE JOB AND IN PUBLIC
Each battered woman must decide if and when she will tell others that her partner has battered her and that she may be at continued risk. Friends, family and co-workers can help to protect women. Each woman should consider carefully which people to invite to help secure her safety.
I might do any or all of the following:
A. I can inform my boss, the security supervisor and____________________ at work of my situation.
B. I can ask ________________ to help screen my telephone calls at work.
C. When leaving work, I can ______________________________________.
D. When driving home if problems occur, I can _________________________
E. If I use public transit, I can ______________________________________.
F. I will go to different grocery stores and shopping malls to conduct my business and shop at hours that are different than those when residing with my battered partner.
G. I can use a different bank and take care of my banking at hours different from those I used when residing with my battered partner
H. I can also__________________________________________________.
STEP 6 – SAFETY AND DRUG OR ALCOHOL USE
Most people in this culture use alcohol. Many use mood-altering drugs. Much of this use is legal and some is not. The legal outcomes of using illegal drugs can be very hard on a battered woman, may hurt her relationship with her children and put her at a disadvantage in other legal actions with her battering partner. Therefore, women should carefully consider the potential cost of the use of illegal drugs. But beyond this, the use of any alcohol or other drug can reduce a woman’s awareness and ability to act quickly to protect herself from her battering partner. Furthermore, the use of alcohol or other drugs by the batterer may give him/her an excuse to use violence. Therefore, in the context of drug or alcohol use, a woman needs to make specific safety plans.
If drug or alcohol use has occurred in my relationship with the battering partner, I can enhance my safety by some or all of the following:
A. If I am going to use, I can do so in a safe place and with people who understand the risk of violence and are committed to my safety.
B. I can also___________________________________________
C. If my partner is using, I can_____________________________
D. I might also_________________________________________
E. To safeguard my children, I might _______________________
F. and ______________________________________________
STEP 7 – SAFETY AND MY EMOTIONAL HEALTH
The experience of being battered and verbally degraded by partners is usually exhausting and emotionally draining. The process of building a new life for myself takes much courage and incredible energy.
To conserve my emotional energy and resources and to avoid hard emotional times, I can do some of the following:
A. If I feel down and ready to return to a potentially abusive situation, I can _____________________________________________.
B. When I have to communicate with my partner in person or by telephone, I can _____________________________________________.
C. I can try to use “I can . . . ” statements with myself and to be assertive with others.
D. I can tell myself -”_____________________________________________ __________________” whenever I feel others are trying to control or abuse me.
E. I can read ____________________________to help me feel stronger.
F. I can call ___________________, ___________________and _________________as other resources to be of support of me.
G. Other things I can do to help me feel stronger are____________ ______________, and_______________________________.
H. I can attend workshops and support groups at the domestic violence program or
_________________________to gain support and strengthen my relationships with other people.
STEP 8 – ITEMS TO TAKE WHEN LEAVING
When women leave partners, it is important to take certain items with them. Beyond this, women sometimes give an extra copy of papers and an extra set of clothing to a friend just in case they have to leave quickly.
Money: Even if I have never worked, I may be entitled to the funds in the checking and savings accounts. If I don’t take any money from the accounts, he can legally take all money and/or close the account and I may not get my share until the court rules on it if ever.
Items with asterisks on the following list are the most important to take. If there is time, the other items might be taken, or stored outside the home. These items might be placed in one location, so that if we have to leave in a hurry, I can grab them quickly.
When I leave, I should have:
1. Identification for myself
2. Children’s birth certificate
3. My birth certificate
4. Social security cards
5. School and vaccination records
7. Checkbook, ATM (Automatic Tellers Machine) card, Credit cards
8. Keys – house/car/office
9. Driver’s license and registration
11. Welfare identification, work permits, Green Card, Passport, divorce papers
12. Medical records – for all family members
13. Lease/rental agreement, house deed, mortgage payment book
14. Bank books, Insurance papers
15. Small saleable objects
16. Address book, pictures, jewelry
17. Children’s favorite toys and/or blankets
18. Items of special sentimental value
Telephone numbers I need to know:
Battered Women’s Program: ________________________________
Wife Assault Help line (24 hours): ___________________________
Work number: ___________________________________________
Supervisor’s home number: ________________________________