Safety Planning in advance can help you to think about how you can increase your safety either within the relationship or if you decide to leave.
You cannot stop your partners violence or abuse - only they can do that. However you can do some things to increase your own and your children’s safety. You will probably be doing some of the things already to keep yourself safe.
Support and advice is available for anyone;
- who wants to stay safe in their home (with or without the partner)
- who wants to plan to leave the relationship
- who is not sure what they can do
Sometimes abusers will increase their violence and control if they suspect you are thinking of leaving, and will continue to do so after you have left. This can be a particularly dangerous time for you - it is important to plan this well. It is important you understand that ending the relationship does not always mean the immediate end of the abuse.
It is good to plan mentally how you might respond to different situations - including a crisis situation when you may need to get out. Take your time to think through Safety Planning and if you want any help with your plan and/or your options there is plenty of support available.
If it is not a crisis and you are planning to leave always remember:
- Is there time ?
- Is it possible / appropriate ?
- Will it make me or the children more unsafe ?
- Who can I ring to get support ?
Before planning anything it is advisable to talk to Support Workers on numbers below to help before a crisis.
Carry a list of relevant phone numbers to call in an emergency, for example friends, family, Police, Solicitor, Women's Aid.
Numbers can easily be forgotten in a crisis.
Police - 999
Police Domestic Violence Unit - 721224/5
Womens Aid - 575757
(Emergency reverse charges accepted)
Some pre-planning suggestions
- Identify the nearest phone
- If you have a mobile phone - keep it charged and with you at all times
- Identify an immediate place of safety (friend/family) - stay there until the Police arrive. Talk to them before, about what is going on - talk to them about what to do if they hear anything or are concerned
- Rehearse your escape plan, so you can all get out safely
- Try to put some money (inc small change) aside for bus/taxi fares etc. You may want to save some money in a separate bank account
- Make up an emergency overnight bag with clothes, money, bank details, benefits info, telephone numbers etc. Hide the bag at a friend or family members who you can trust
- Keep a diary of events as they happen to ensure you don’t forget and for evidence if necessary. Record incidents including dates, times, evidence, witnesses etc
- Wherever possible, always take the children; whatever the long-term plans or arrangements are going to be
- If possible and if the children are old enough you may want to talk to them about safety and the possibility of having to leave in a hurry. They probably know what is happening and will need explanations
- Show your children how to call 999 - including the information they will need - name, address, phone number etc. Also see safety planning for children.
- Where possible speak to the children’s school - they may be able to help in an emergency - you may need to take them out of school
- Where possible, plan to leave when your partner will be out of the house for a long time
- Keep important documents including identification in a safe place to take when you leave
- Take identification of your partner including photos, car details, etc., it may help others to protect you.
Other items you might want to pack:
(Packing items may not be possible if you leave in an emergency)
- Birth Certificate; Driving Licence; Passport
- Bank Books; cheque books; Benefits Info
- Keys to house, car and work
- Prescribed Medication
- Paperwork about your tenancy/mortgage
- Paperwork for Police / Court Orders etc
- Insurance documents
- Address Book / Diary
- Photos, jewellery, sentimental items that cannot be replaced
- Children’s toys, school books etc
- Clothes for you and the children
What if you don’t have time to plan/pack?
Do not worry if you have not had time to plan - help is available no matter what you remember to pack or even if you do not have time to pack at all - things can be sorted after the crisis.
If you suspect that your partner is about to attack you
Try to work your way towards safer rooms in the house where you have access to a phone or so you are near a door. Avoid rooms like kitchen or garage where there may be easier access to knives/weapons. Avoid places where you might get trapped - upstairs rooms, bathrooms, cupboards etc
If you don’t want to leave your home but need to feel safer
You do not have to leave your home to get support to help you feel safer. There are many services that can help you to stay safe in your home. (Also see 'What Help is Available') Support workers are available to speak to. There are many ways to help you to stay in your home and still help you to feel safe.
Safety items that may be available to keep you safe
- Changing locks on doors
- Installing locks on windows
- Spy or peep holes for doors
- Door chains / bolts
- Installing smoke detectors
- Installing outside lights
- Mobile phones and/or panic alarms for emergencies
- Fire service checks
- Personal alarms
- Phone apps to log incidents and keep you safe
You can stay in your home and receive legal protection. A support worker, police officer or solicitor could give you information about this.
It is your decision whether or not you tell people that you are experiencing or have experienced the abuse. However if you feel you may be at risk, it might increase your safety if you tell family, friends, school, employer etc. Check they know how important it is to not give out any information to your ex-partner. Taking to them beforehand also helps them to support you better in an emergency.
IMPORTANT - if you feel really unsafe and must leave always call the Police and/or Women's Aid.
If you are thinking of moving away to stay safe
You may feel the only way to get away from the abuse is to move town. There is help available if this is your only option. You may want to
- change your mobile phone as it may be tracked to another town
- avoid using any shared credit cards or bank accounts that can be traced
- check your address does not appear on any court/solicitor papers
- use a phone with a ‘number withheld’ service if you need to contact the abuser. Failing this you can dial 141 before ringing which will withhold your number
- talk to your children about the need to keep your new location, address and phone number confidential
- be careful when sending anything to the abuser, postmarks can be traced - some solicitors and refuges have facilities to send letters from other towns to avoid recognition of postmarks.
If you have left your home
- Try not to put yourself in vulnerable positions or in isolated places
- Avoid places where you went together
- Try to alter your routines as much as possible
- Change any regular appointments that your partner may know about - try to change the times/days and the location if possible
- Try to choose safe routes and safe forms of transport
- Be aware and vigilant when leaving or approaching unavoidable places such as doctors, work, schools etc.
- Let the school know what is happening - Sometimes schools will allow you to pick up or drop off children early to avoid confrontation. Make sure they have any new numbers to contact you
- Get into a routine of telling someone where you are going and when you will be expected back - you may want to set up passwords
- Let your employer know what you want them to do or not to do if your partner turns up at work
There are confidential sessions, email support, telephone support, one-to-one support, etc., available for anyone experiencing abuse
HOWEVER ………. in an emergency always call 999