Domestic Violence Safety Plan
If your spouse or partner has abused you, there are several things you can do to be prepared in the event it happens again. If it is unsafe to go home, you and your children may need to find a safe place to stay for the night, or even longer. If you are prepared when the violence occurs, you are more likely to be able to respond quickly and find solutions to the problem. Here are some things you should have ready:
- Always have some money hidden to be used for later emergencies. Put away a few dollars each paycheck.
- Have extra keys made for the car and the house, and keep them hidden. Make sure you put them in a safe place so you can get to them in a hurry if you need them.
- Have the following items ready in case you need to move out quickly: bank accounts, insurance policies, marriage license, drivers license, Social Security Numbers (for all family members), birth certificates, and valuable jewelry. Have clothing and documents hidden in one central place (like the garage or closet in an overnight bag) so they are ready and easy to get to when you need them.
- Have a small bag of clothing for yourself and your children in case you need to stay with a friend or at a safe-house overnight.
- Before the abuse happens again, notify a neighbor to be alert to strange noises and to call the police in case you can't.
- Figure out what the abuser's pattern of behavior is during the violent stage so that you can be prepared to protect yourself next time, or so you can take action to leave the situation.
- Get rid of weapons in the house before the violence occurs again.
- Consider first the safety of yourself and your children in deciding how to best work out this problem. The abuser may have to prove that he or she has made changes and is willing to go to counseling. Don't rely on promises alone. Promises are sometimes used to get the family back together, but the abuser really doesn't want to change anything.
- Above all, don't hesitate to call the police. There are recent laws in place to assist victims of domestic violence, and you may need the protection.
- Remember that every one of us should have such an escape bag planned. No one knows what kind of emergency (flood, fire, etc.) may happen. Be prepared.