Making a Safety Plan

A Safety Plan can be written or committed to memory. If written, be cautious about keeping it hidden.

When making a safety plan, some things to consider are:

  • Is there a pattern to the abuse that you can expect? Does your abuser react a certain way in a situation that you can plan around?
  • What are the dynamics of the abuse? What forms does the abuse take? Each situation is different and the risk of abuse takes various forms. It is important to start with an understanding of the dynamics of your situation and to think through a safety plan for each.

Safety planning may be different based on your situation.

  •  If the abuse is physical, it is important to think about the patterns and situations that tend to trigger the abuser's violence. For example, your safety plan may include what you will say or do if the abuser comes home intoxicated, or if the abuser's anger is escalated. Consider the safest place in your home, away from sharp or heavy objects.
  •  If the abuse is emotional, a safety plan might help you recover and regain a sense of clarity and self-esteem after a verbal outburst. Once you understand the abuser's thinking process, you can plan on ways to defend yourself or to ignore the abuse. Plan to call friend or counselor after a verbal or emotional abusive incident for some emotional support. Emotional abuse can be devastating on your self esteem and you may need some help remembering that you are a good person and that you are capable.
  • If the abuse is sexual, you can think through what options you have to reduce the risk of physical injury or sexual assault. You might also think of ways to protect yourself from pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections.
  •  If the abuse if financial, you can develop ways to secretly save money, or open a bank account that is not in the abuser's name. You should also watch for signs that your credit rating may be dropping, or that your identity is being used to take loans, credit cards, or utilities.
  •  If your children are at risk for exposure to violence, you can think through ways to address transportation, school, daycare, activities, and visitation safely. Based on their age and development, you can involve children in taking action and teach them how and when to call 911, when to involve a trusted adult, when to walk or run away from a situation to get help.

Overall, remember that you are not alone in planning for your safety. Many forms of abuse are also crimes and you should consider whether a restraining order or police intervention might be helpful and under what circumstances. You know best what will escalate or deescalate your risk of danger because you know the abuser best.

What is a high risk perpetrator?

Safe Passage is part of a High Risk Assessment Team in collaboration with the Northwestern District Attorney's office. Based on recent research that helps indicate which abusers may be at risk of committing homicide or attempted homicide, this team evaluates high risk abusers and provides outreach and support to victims. An initial assessment is made when a law enforcement officer responds to a call. He or she can do an assessment based on a checklist of characteristics and conditions that indicate a high level of risk. If the abuser shows a high number of these characteristics, he or she may be referred to this team. If you think that the High Risk Assessment Team may be needed, contact the police or a Safe Passage counselor. They can help you assess and make a recommendation to the Team on your behalf.