what is a safety plan?

A safety plan is a personalized, practical plan that includes ways to remain safe while in a relationship, planning to leave, or after you leave. Safety planning involves how to cope with emotions, tell friends and family about the abuse, take legal action and more.

At Women Called Moses, we discuss safety planning with victims, friends and family members — anyone who is concerned about their own safety or the safety of someone else.

A good safety plan will have all of the vital information you need and be tailored to your unique situation, and will help walk you through different scenarios.

Although some of the things that you outline in your safety plan may seem obvious, it’s important to remember that in moments of crisis your brain doesn’t function the same way as when you are calm. When adrenaline is pumping through your veins it can be hard to think clearly or make logical decisions about your safety. Having a safety plan laid out in advance can help you to protect yourself in those stressful moments.

CLICK ONE

in home safety

  • Identify your partner’s use and level of force so that you can assess the risk of physical danger to you and your children before it occurs.
  • Identify safe areas of the house where there are no weapons and there are ways to escape. If arguments occur, try to move to those areas.
  • Don’t run to where the children are, as your partner may hurt them as well.
  • If violence is unavoidable, make yourself a small target. Dive into a corner and curl up into a ball with your face protected and arms around each side of your head, fingers entwined.
  • If possible, have a phone accessible at all times and know what numbers to call for help. Know where the nearest public phone is located. Know the phone number to your local shelter. If your life is in danger, call the police.
  • Let trusted friends and neighbors know of your situation and develop a plan and visual signal for when you need help.
  • Teach your children how to get help. Instruct them not to get involved in the violence between you and your partner. Plan a code word to signal to them that they should get help or leave the house.
  • Tell your children that violence is never right, even when someone they love is being violent. Tell them that neither you, nor they, are at fault or are the cause of the violence, and that when anyone is being violent, it is important to stay safe.
  • Practice how to get out safely. Practice with your children.
  • Plan for what you will do if your children tells your partner of your plan or if your partner otherwise finds out about your plan.
  • Keep weapons like guns and knives locked away and as inaccessible as possible.
  • Make a habit of backing the car into the driveway and keeping it fueled. Keep the driver’s door unlocked and others locked — for a quick escape.
  • Try not to wear scarves or long jewelry that could be used to strangle you.
  • Create several plausible reasons for leaving the house at different times of the day or night.

safety planning with children

  • Teach your children when and how to call 911.
  • Instruct them to leave the home if possible when things begin to escalate, and where they can go.
  • Come up with a code word that you can say when they need to leave the home in case of an emergency  — make sure that they know not to tell others what the secret word means.
  • In the house: identify a room they can go to when they’re afraid and something they can think about when they’re scared.
  • Instruct them to stay out of the kitchen, bathroom and other areas where there are items that could be used as weapons.
  • Make a habit of backing the car into the driveway and keeping it fueled. Keep the driver’s door unlocked and others locked — for a quick escape.
  • Help them make a list of people that they are comfortable talking with and expressing themselves to.
  • Enroll them in a counseling program. Local service providers often have children’s programs.

UNSUPERVISED VISITS

  • Teach your children when and how to call 911.
  • Instruct them to leave the home if possible when things begin to escalate, and where they can go.
  • Come up with a code word that you can say when they need to leave the home in case of an emergency  — make sure that they know not to tell others what the secret word means.
  • In the house: identify a room they can go to when they’re afraid and something they can think about when they’re scared.
  • Instruct them to stay out of the kitchen, bathroom and other areas where there are items that could be used as weapons.
  • Make a habit of backing the car into the driveway and keeping it fueled. Keep the driver’s door unlocked and others locked — for a quick escape.
  • Help them make a list of people that they are comfortable talking with and expressing themselves to.
  • Enroll them in a counseling program. Local service providers often have children’s programs.

safety planning while pregnant

Pregnancy is a time of change. Pregnancy can be full of excitement but also comes with an added need for support. It’s natural to need emotional support from a partner, as well as perhaps financial assistance, help to prepare for the baby and more.

If your partner is emotionally or physically abusive toward you, it can make these months of transition especially difficult. Thankfully, there are resources available to help expecting women get the support needed for a safe, healthy pregnancy.

According to the CDC, intimate partner violence affects approximately 1.5 million women each year and affects as many as 324,000 pregnant women each year. Pregnancy can be an especially dangerous time for women in abusive relationships, and abuse can often begin or escalate during the pregnancy.

  • If you’re pregnant, there is always a heightened risk during violent situations. If you’re in a home with stairs, try to stay on the first floor. Getting into the fetal position around your stomach if you’re being attacked is another tactic that can be instrumental in staying safe.
  • Doctor’s visits can be an opportunity to discuss what is going on in your relationship.
  • If your partner goes to these appointments with you, try to find a moment when they’re out of the room to ask your care provider (or even the front desk receptionist) about coming up with an excuse to talk to them one-on-one.
  • If you’ve decided to leave your relationship, a health care provider can become an active participant in your plan to leave.
  • If possible, see if you can take a women-only prenatal class. This could be a comfortable atmosphere for discussing pregnancy concerns or could allow you to speak to the class instructor one-on-one.

GENERAL TIPS

  • Open a checking or savings account in your own name.
  • Leave money, an extra set of keys, copies of important documents and extra clothes and medications in a safe place or with someone you trust.
  • Open your own post office box.
  • Identify a safe place where you can go and someone who can lend you money.
  • If you have pets, make arrangements for them to be cared for in a safe place.

SAFETY ON THE JOB

  • Inform someone at work of your situation. Include the security officers at work and provide them with a picture of your partner.
  • Have someone screen your telephone calls at work.
  • ALWAYS Have someone escort you to and from your car, bus or train.
  • In the house: identify a room they can go to when they’re afraid and something they can think about when they’re scared.
  • Use a variety of routes to come and go from home.

Remember: You are the expert of your situation. Use these tips only if you feel safe doing so.

RESOURCES

Hotlines
National Domestic Violence Hotline 800-799-SAFE
Dallas Area Rape Crisis Center 972-641-RAPE (7273)
Adult and Child Abuse Hotline 800-252-5400

Emergency Assistance
North Dallas Shared Ministries 972-620-8690
Parkland Homes 214-590-0153
Catholic Charities 214-520-6590
Violence Intervention and Prevention Center at Parkland Hospital 214-590-2926
After hours – 214-590-8000

Women’s Shelters
Women Called Moses
The Family Place 214-941-1991
Genesis Shelter 214-946-HELP (4357)
Brighter Tomorrows 972-262-8383
Mosaic Family Services 214-823-4434
Hope’s Door 972-422-7233
New Beginning Center 972-276-0057
The Salvation Army
Dallas 214-424-7208
The Salvation Army
Fort Worth 817-332-2495
Safe Haven
Fort Worth 877-701-7233

Transitional Housing
Mosaic Family Services 214-823-4434
Home Sweet Home 214-424-7033
Crossroads 972-254-4003

Domestic Violence Counseling
Brighter Tomorrow 972-263-0506
The Family Place 214-443-7701
Genesis Outreach 214-559-2050
Mosaic Family Services 214-821-5392
New Beginnings Center 972-276-0423

Legal Resources
Legal Aid of North Texas 214-748-1234 (Dallas)
Family Violence Legal Hotline 800-374-HOPE
Family Law Hotline 800-777-FAIR

Other Resources
Dallas Police Department
Family Violence Unit 214-671-4304
City of Dallas Crisis Intervention Unit 214-670-7766
Dallas County Family Violence 214-653-3528
Child Protective Services 800-252-5400
District Attorney Court Advocate 214-443-7714
Suicide and Crisis Center of North Texas 214-828-1000

IF YOU ARE IN DANGER CALL 911 NOW!

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