Safety Planning for Women Experiencing Abuse

Are you experiencing abuse by your partner, but aren’t sure how to protect yourself, or how to leave?  Here we describe the actions you can take to protect your safety and the safety of your children, and we describe how you can develop a plan to leave.

Safety planning is a top priority, whether you choose to remain in the home or leave.  Making a safety plan involves identifying actions to increase your safety and that of your children.  You will find some suggestions here that might be helpful to you.  Take one action at a time and start with the one that is easiest and safest for you.

Protecting yourself while living with an abuser:

  • Tell someone you trust about the abuse.
  • Think about your partner’s past use and level of force.  This will help you predict what type danger you and your children are facing and when to leave.
  • Tell your children that abuse is never right, even when someone they love is being abusive.  Tell them the abuse isn’t your fault or their fault; they did not cause it, and neither did you.  Teach them it is important to keep safe when there is abuse.
  • Plan where to go in an emergency.  Teach your children how to get help.  Tell them not to get between you and your partner if there is violence.  Plan a code word to signal they should get help or leave.
  • Don’t run to a place where the children are, as your partner may hurt them as well.
  • Create a plan to get out of your home safely and practice it with your children.
  • Ask your neighbours, friends and family to call the police if they hear sounds of abuse and to look after your children in an emergency.
  • If an argument is developing, move to a space where you can get outside easily.  Don’t go to a room where there is access to potential weapons.  (e.g. kitchen, workshop, bathroom).
  • If you are being hurt, protect your face with your arms around each side of your head, with your fingers locked together.  Don’t wear scarves or long jewelry.
  • Park your car by backing it into the driveway and keep it fuelled.
  • Hide your keys, cell phone and some money near your escape route.
  • Have a list of phone numbers to call for help.  Call the police if it is an emergency.  Your local shelter or police may be able to equip you with a panic button/cell phone.
  • Make sure all weapons and ammunition are hidden or removed from your home.