Designing a safety plan helps you to prepare in the event you need to leave a potentially dangerous situation in a hurry.
Many people can benefit from developing a safety plan, for example, a person currently in an abusive relationship, a person who has left an abusive relationship, a person being stalked, or someone who has been sexually assaulted.
When you have made your plan, review it frequently and call RDVIC (304) 292-5100 for any assistance. Trust your intuition and judgment in planning for your own safety.
The following 5 step plan is an example and can make a difference for you or your family’s safety.
Step 1: Safety During a Violent Incident
A. Practice getting out safely. It helps to be aware of doors, windows, elevators, and stairwells you can use to exit.
B. Keep your purse and car keys readily available. Keep them in a specific place at all times.
C. Teach children how to use the telephone to contact the police and fire department.
D. Speak with trusted neighbors about the violence and request that they call the police if they hear suspicious noises. Set up a signal and a code word to alert your children, friends, and neighbors.
E. If you think there may be an argument or violent incident, move to a low-risk space. Avoid bathrooms, garages, kitchens, places near weapons, or rooms without access to the outside.
Step 2: Safety When Preparing to Leave
A. Leave money and an extra set of keys with someone you trust so that you can leave quickly.
B. Make copies of important documents that you can leave with someone you trust or place in a safe deposit box.
C. Open your own savings account to increase your independence.
D. Keep RDVIC’s number (304) 292-5100 in a safe location in case you need emergency shelter.
E. Rehearse your escape plan and practice it with your children.
Step 3: Safety at Home
A. Change the locks on your doors and windows.
B. Replace wooden doors with steel doors.
C. Install security measures such as additional locks, window bars, poles to wedge against doors, etc.
D. Install outside lighting system.
E. Inform neighbors, friends, babysitters, school, day care staff and others that your partner no longer resides with you and to call the police if he or she is seen near your residence.
Step 4: Safety with a Protection Order
A. Keep your protection order on or near you at all times.
B. Give a copy of your protection order to police departments in communities where you visit family or friends.
C. Inform people such as your employer, spiritual leader, closest friends, and relatives that you have a protection order in place. It is also a good idea to show them pictures of the abuser.
D. Ask for help screening calls at work.
E. Call the police immediately if the order is violated. You do not need to tell the abuser that you are calling 911–just call.
F. Call RDVIC (304) 292-5100 if you have questions or problems.
Step 5: Safety and Your Emotional Health
A. Keep a list of people you can call to talk with if you are feel down and ready to return to an abusive situation.
B. Try to use “I can…” statements with yourself and try to be assertive with others. For example:
a. I respect myself
b. I care for my well-being
c. I give others responsibility for their lives today.
d. I feel good about myself today.
C. Learn to recognize the warning signs of abuse and think of something empowering to tell yourself whenever you feel that others are trying to control or abuse you.
a. I can remain calm no matter the circumstances
b. People are always willing to help me
c. I can handle this situation.
D. Think of something you can read or listen to that will help you feel stronger.
E. Attend RDVIC support group meetings
Things to Take When You Leave
There may come a point when you decide to leave an abusive situation. When that time comes, you will need to have some important papers.
Remember to take these items with you.
- personal Identification
- children’s birth certificates
- social security cards
- school and vaccination records
- money, checkbook, ATM card, credit cards, bank books
- house and car keys
- driver’s license and registration
- welfare identification, work permits, green card, passport
- food stamps or EBT card
- divorce papers
- lease or rental agreements, house deed, mortgage payment book, and insurance papers