What is Safety Planning?
Safety planning is a way to assess danger/risk: this can be risk of physical, emotional, sexual, financial and/or cultural/identity harm. It is also a way to come up with strategies that can help you stay safer
What does a safety plan look like?
Use your judgment about what will work in your situation. You can plan ahead and strategize around ways to stay safer in the relationship, when leaving, and/or after the relationship has ended. Trust your instincts. If your gut tells you that abuse is coming, pay attention. Whether you live with your abuser or not, here are some questions you can think about to help develop your safety plan:
- What do you need to feel safe?
- What concerns do you have for your safety and the safety of your kids/pets/loved ones, etc?
- What have you done in the past to stay safe? Have those strategies helped? Will they help now?
In general, you can…
- Let a safe person know what is happening and what you would like them to do in an emergency. You may want to give them a code word or phrase that can signal that you need help.
- Store money, keys, medication, birth certificate, identification, social security card, immigration documents, insurance cards and/or other important documents, clothing, and anything else you may need at a friend’s, a family member’s, at work, in a car trunk, or another place your abuser will not have access to.
- Get medical attention for any injuries you or your kids may have. Besides making sure you’re okay, medical records may be useful in the future to document the abuse if you decide to pursue any legal recourse (e.g. restraining orders, immigration relief, etc).
- Get support for yourself and your kids (contact friends, family, or one of the resources listed on this site). You can call The Network/La Red hotline at 617-742-4911 (voice), 617-227-4911 (TTY), or 800-832-1901 (Toll-Free), for free confidential support. You don’t have to leave or want to leave your partner to get support.
- Get a restraining order: available free of charge at any court in Massachusetts (or through the local or state police after hours). A restraining order can order the abuser to stop abusing you, to leave the apartment/house, to stay away from you and/or your children, to surrender weapons and FID card, to compensate you for expenses related to the abuse, and/or grant you temporary custody and support for your children. In Massachusetts, restraining orders are available regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity, age, or domestic partnership status or whether or not you have ever lived together or been married.
During an incident, you can…
- Try to move into a room where there are no weapons (for example, out of the kitchen or away from where a gun is stored). Try to be near a door or other escape route.
- Call the police. Although the legal system can be homo/bi/transphobic, racist, ableist, classist etc. if you feel that the police could help in your situation, don’t hesitate to use them.
If you want to leave, you don’t have to wait for something terrible to happen. It’s okay for you to go whenever you want to or can.
If you decide to leave, you can…
- Find a safe place to stay (a friend’s, coworker’s or family member’s, domestic violence shelter, The Network/La Red’s emergency safe home, motel). If you need to get out, but can’t find a place to stay, hospitals are often open 24 hours.
- Change your routines where possible so it’s harder to find you – i.e., your work schedule, where and when you go grocery shopping, do laundry, have medical/therapy appointments, etc. If you can’t change routines, see if someone can go with you so that you’re not alone if you run into your abuser.
- Get support. Trust your instincts about who you can rely on to keep your whereabouts and activities confidential. It may be helpful to emphasize the importance of confidentiality to those in your support system.