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Empower Yourself with a Safety Plan

Empower Yourself with a Safety Plan

Every person should feel safe in their home, but the presence of domestic violence makes that impossible for many. Oftentimes, they flee spontaneously. If you are enduring a harmful relationship and considering leaving, a Safety Plan can be a critical element that helps you be prepared and have a better opportunity to reclaim control over your life.

Learn why a safety plan is helpful and teach you how to create your own.

How a Safety Plan Helps

A safety plan is a personalized, practical plan to improve safety while experiencing abuse, preparing to leave an abusive situation, or after you leave your abuser, according to the National Domestic Violence Hotline. It is a tremendously courageous act to leave, but when you do, then what? Identifying and documenting a set of actions to follow can help you lower your risk of being hurt by a partner as you leave.

Identify Specific Triggers

There is always a risk in fleeing. To reduce risk, document the specific triggers, patterns of abuse, and the abuser’s behavior, you can gain insight to proactively lower that risk during the separation process.

Have a Roadmap for Support

You may often feel isolated and hesitant to disclose your situation. A well-structured safety plan contains the names and numbers of trusted individuals, support networks, and organizations that can help. This information should contain emotional, legal, and financial options. Building a strong support system is vital for overcoming the challenges of leaving an abusive relationship.

Be Proactive

A safety plan addresses aspects of leaving, such as securing important documents, setting aside emergency funds, and arranging a safe place to stay. These practical considerations can significantly reduce your hurdles when breaking free from the cycle of abuse. Additionally, a safety plan gives you the ability to act quickly if or when action is needed. In the chaos of leaving an abusive relationship, time is often critical. A well-thought-out plan allows you to act decisively, ensuring your safety and that of your dependents.

Elements of a Safety Plan

Now that we have reviewed the benefits of a safety plan, here are some steps to take to create one. If you have safe and secure access to the internet, you can use the online tool from the National Domestic Violence Hotline to create one and immediately print it on a secure printer. Your local library may be an option.

Create Safety Around Your Schedule

Whether you are in school, have a job, or have a combination of the two, your abuser probably knows your schedule and your routine. Take some time to identify your schedule and the patterns you tend to follow. Are there ways to alter your route or the path you take either via car, bus or on foot to keep someone from knowing your location? Is there an opportunity to change your schedule in a way that will improve your safety?

Identify Trusted Family & Friends

Consider those you know and identify and print specific names, phone numbers, and addresses of at least two to three people you could call when the time comes if you need a place to stay or someone to pick you up from a location and bring you to safety. Just knowing whom to call is not enough. Printed information to help when you may be suffering mentally or physically is key.

Gather Documentation

Find original paperwork or make photocopies of important documents, including your social security card, birth certificate, government ID, medical records, insurance details, or any other critical information that would be necessary for establishing a new residence, getting a job, applying for assistance, etc.

Collect Dependent Information

If you plan to flee with children, gather their essential documents and identification as well. Consider personal documentation as well as education and medical records. Store these, along with yours, in a folder or give them to your trusted family member for safekeeping.

Obtain Financial Information

Knowing account numbers, login information, and any other details pertaining to finances will provide some peace of mind when you leave. It is often advisable to open a private bank account or transfer funds to a secure place that is only available to you.

Select Code Words

Decide on a phrase or word that you can use as a code during a phone call, text, or chat that alerts others that you need immediate help. This word should be one that is unsuspecting if your abuser were to hear you speak it or read it. Inform your trusted family and friends of this word so they know when you are using it. It is also important to share this word with your children if you expect to use it with them or have them use it for their safety, but make sure they understand the importance of keeping this code word private.

Get Help with Your Safety Plan

At Synergy Services, we know how beneficial a safety plan can be for helping survivors successfully flee their abusive relationship. Take the time to think through and consider all the questions and scenarios suggested above honestly. For a safety plan to be effective, it must be accurate. Once you complete your plan, print it on paper, share it with a trusted person, and keep it in a safe place. A hard copy of this may be all you have when the time comes to leave.

We understand the thought of creating a safety plan may seem daunting, but we are here to help. Our 24/7 advocates are available to assist you. Contact us at our Domestic Violence Hotline [tel:8163217050] to get started today.