It might include planning for a future crisis, weighing all of your options, and making decisions about what steps to take next. Finding ways to stay safe is empowering and can be a vital step toward healing. Click through the tabs below to learn more about the basics of safety planning. Then, download the free worksheet, provided courtesy of the National Center on Domestic and Sexual Violence (NCDSV), to work out your own safety plan. You may also call us at 360-336-9591 to speak with an advocate for help developing your plan, free of charge.
If you are living with your abuser, there are things you can do to keep yourself and family safer.
Trust your instincts. Do whatever you have to do to survive.
If not, consider that you can call our 24-Hr Hotline at 1-888-336-9591 anytime, day or night. Our highly-trained advocates are available 24/7/365 to talk confidentially with anyone experiencing domestic violence, seeking resources or information, or questioning unhealthy aspects of their relationship.
Leaving is your choice. You are the best judge of your situation and no one but you can say when you will be able to leave your situation. If you do choose to go, be aware that this is a dangerous time for victims. Abuse is about control – when abusers feel a loss of control – like when victims try to leave them – the abuse often gets worse. Take special care when you leave. Remain vigilant, even after you have left. That is not to discourage you from leaving, but to empower you with all the knowledge you need for success. We can help you develop a plan to leave, if that’s what you feel is the best solution. Contact our agency at 360-336-9591 to speak with an advocate about developing a plan.
Because violence could escalate when someone tries to leave, here are some things to keep in mind before you leave:
If you are in an abusive relationship, a safety plan should include ways that your children can stay safe when violence is happening in your home. It’s key to remember that if the violence is escalating, you should avoid running to the children because your partner may hurt them as well.
Planning for Violence in the Home
Planning for Unsupervised Visits
If you have separated from an abusive partner and are concerned for your childrens’ safety when they visit your ex, developing a safety plan for while they are visiting can be beneficial.
Planning for Safe Custody Exchanges
How to Have These Conversations
Let your child know that what’s happening is not their fault and that they didn’t cause it. Let them know how much you love them and that you support them no matter what. Tell them that you want to protect them and that you want everyone to be safe, so you have to come up with a plan to use in case of emergencies. It’s important to remember that when you’re safety planning with a child, they might tell this information to the abusive partner, which could make the situation more dangerous (ex. “Mom said to do this if you get angry.”) When talking about these plans with your child, use phrases such as “We’re practicing what to do in an emergency,” instead of “We’re planning what you can do when dad/mom becomes violent.”
Statistics show that up to 65% of domestic violence victims are unable to escape their abusive partners because they are concerned about what will happen to their pets when they leave. Fortunately, there are more and more resources in place to assist with this difficult situation.
If you’re creating a safety plan of your own to leave an abusive relationship, safety planning for your pets is important as well. Bring extra provisions for them, copies of their medical records and important phone numbers.
If possible, don’t leave pets alone with an abusive partner. If you are planning to leave, talk to friends, family or your veterinarian about temporary care for your pet. If that is not an option, search by state or zip code for services that assist domestic violence survivors with safekeeping for their pets. Try zip code first, and if there are no results, try a search by state. If the none of the results are feasible for your situation, try contacting your local domestic violence or animal shelter directly. For help finding an animal shelter, visit the Humane Society website.
If you’ve had to leave your pet behind with your abusive partner, try to ask for assistance from law enforcement officials or animal control to see if they can intervene.
Take steps to prove ownership of your pet: have them vaccinated and license them with your town, ensuring that these registrations are made in your name (change them if they aren’t).
If you’re thinking about getting a protective order, know that some states allow pets to be a part of these.
If you’ve left your partner, ensure the safety of your pet by changing veterinarians and avoid leaving pets outside alone.