Safety plans can be made for a variety of situations: for dealing with an emergency, such as when you are threatened with a physical assault or an assault has occurred; for continuing to live with or to date a partner who has been abusive; or for protecting yourself after you have ended a relationship with an abusive partner.
Use what you already know
If you are a battered woman, you probably know more about safety planning and risk assessment that you might realize. Being in a relationship with an abusive partner – and surviving – requires considerable skill and resourcefulness. Any time you do or say something as a way to protect yourself or your children, you are assessing risk and enacting a safety plan. You do it all the time it’s just not always a conscious process.
Think it through
It can be a helpful safety strategy to evaluate risks and make safety plans in a more intentional way. Whether you are currently with your partner or have ended the relationship, and whether you choose to use the available services system or to involve the police, there are certain things that are helpful to consider in planning for your future safety.
Be aware of dangers
If you are planning to leave your partner or already have left, be aware that batterers often escalate their violence during times of separation, increasing your risk for harm, including serious and life-threatening injury. Making a separation safety plan can help reduce the risks to you and your children.
Evaluate your options
Only you can judge whom it’s safe to tell about your situation and who to ask for help. Sometimes, people who don’t have good information about domestic violence respond to battered women in ways that aren’t helpful, even when they mean well. On the other hand, you might feel comfortable asking help from someone you know. It’s your decision. The important thing is for you to identify all the people who might be willing and able to help you. Make a list of their phone numbers and attach it to your safety plan for easy reference.
You don’t have to wait for an emergency to ask for help. In fact, it’s a good idea to talk to people who can help before there’s a crisis. Find out what they are willing and able to do for you. That way, you’ll know in advance if you have a place to stay, a source of financial assistance, or a safe person to keep copies of important papers.
Reduce your risk
No battered woman has control over her partner’s violence, but women can and do find ways to reduce their risk of harm. This safety plan is a tool to assist you in identifying options, evaluating those options, and committing to a plan to reduce your risk when confronted with the threat of harm or with actual harm. There’s no right or wrong way to develop a safety plan. Use what applies or change it to reflect your particular situation. Make it your own, than review it regularly and make changes as needed.