Safety Planning if You are Living with an Abuser

Some suggestions for making a safety plan if you are living with an abuser:

  • Think about who you can stay with and make arrangements in advance so that if you decide to leave suddenly, you will have a place to go immediately.
  • You might also consider leaving documents, money, or other belongings with a friend or relative while living with your abuser.
  • Create a signal with trusted people to communicate if you need help during a violent episode.
  • Think through the situations that have triggered violent episodes in the past and plan what you can do that might deescalate the situation.
  • Teach your children how to dial 911 in an emergency (saying full name, address, and that there is an emergency)
  • Consider whether your neighbors can help by developing a signal with them if you need help, or asking them to call 911 if they hear an argument occurring.
  • If your abuser checks your messages, texts, or e-mails, create a code system with a friend, family member, colleague, neighbor, or anyone else, if you need to communicate for help. -Practice your safety plan, with your children if possible. Review it with yourself and your children as often as possible, whether or not you can actually practice doing it.
  • Open a bank account in only your name. Keep the paperwork in a secret place in your home or in the home of someone you can trust.
  • If you feel you can trust your boss and/or any of your colleagues, inform them of the situation.
  • Keep your cell phone and any other electronic devices charged and ready.
  •  Think about what circumstances would warrant a call to police. Consider where you can go and how you can make the call.

Some things to think about while living with an abuser are:

  • Places you could go if you need to leave.
  • People who could help you. It might be possible to keep some of your important documents or necessities at these people's houses. If it is a mutual friend or family, carefully judge whether that person will effectively help you stay safe.
  • Determine which parts of the house are the least dangerous and try to move to those if an argument begins. Avoid places with only one exit, such as bathrooms, and places with items that can be used as weapons, like the kitchen.