Safety Planning

The safety plan is for individuals of any age who may be abused by or afraid of their spouse/partner, boyfriend/girlfriend, adult child or other family members. Safety planning will help you prepare for potentially dangerous situations. Choose only the suggestions listed here that make sense for your set of circumstances. Take extra precautions when weapons are present in the home.

Safety During an Explosive Incident

A. If you can see an argument coming (often you can’t), try to go to an area that has access to an exit and not in the bathroom (or near hard surfaces), a kitchen (knives), or anywhere near weapons.

B. Try to stay in a room with a phone so you can call 911, the police, a friend or a neighbor.

C. If weapons are in the home, inform law enforcement

D. Practice how to get out of your home safely. Visualize your escape route. Identify the best doors, windows, elevator, or stairwell.

E. Have a packed bag ready with any medications and other important items. Keep it hidden in a handy place in order to leave quickly or leave it elsewhere if your abuser searches your home.

F. Devise a code word to use with your children, grandchildren, and others to communicate that you need them to call police.

G. Ask a neighbor to call the police if they hear a disturbance coming from your home.

H. Decide and plan for where you will go if you have to leave home (even if you don’t think you’ll need to).

I. Use your instinct and judgment. If the situation is very dangerous, consider any action that might calm things down, to give you time to assess what to do next.


Safety When Preparing to Leave

A. Open a savings account in your own name. Consider direct deposit of your paycheck or benefit check. Think of other ways to increase your independence.

B. Leave money, an extra set of keys, copies of important papers or documents, and extra clothes with someone you trust so you can leave quickly.

C. Keep the domestic abuse program number close at hand and keep some change or a telephone calling card with you at all times for emergency phone calls. Consider getting a cellular phone if possible.

D. Identify someone who would let you stay with them or lend you money.

E. If you are 60 years or older, contact your county/tribal aging unit to learn about eligibility for public and private benefit services such as Social Security, pensions, housing, transportation, and medical insurance.

F. Bring any medications, prescriptions, glasses, hearing aids, or other assisting devices you need

G. Review your safety plan as often as possible in order to plan the safest way to leave your abuser. REMEMBER-LEAVING CAN BE THE MOST DANGEROUS TIME.

Safety in Your Own Home

(If your abuser does not live with you)

A. Change the locks on your doors as soon as possible. Buy additional locks and safety devices to secure your windows. Consider installing or increasing your outside lighting.

B. If you have young children, grandchildren, or other dependents living with you, discuss a safety plan for when you are not with them and inform their school, day care, etc., about who has permission to pick them up.

C. Inform neighbors and your landlord that your abuser no longer lives with you and that they should call the police if they see your abuser near your home.

D. Use an answering machine to screen telephone calls.

Safety with a Restraining Order

A. Keep your restraining order with you at all times. (When you change your purse, this should be the first thing that goes into it). If it is lost or destroyed, you can get another copy from the County Clerk of Courts Office.

B. Call the police if your abuser violates the conditions of the restraining order.

C. Think of alternative ways to keep safe in case the police do not respond right away.

D. Inform family, friends, teachers, and neighbors that you have a restraining order in effect.

Safety in Public
(School, your job, social/recreational or volunteer activities)

A. Decide who you will inform of your situation. This could include your school, office, or building security (provide a picture of your abuser, if possible).

B. Arrange to have someone screen your telephone calls, if possible.

C. Devise a safety plan for when you are out in public. Have someone escort you to your car, bus, or taxi. If possible, use a variety of routes to go home. Think about what you would do if something happened while going home.

Your Safety & Emotional Health

A. If you are thinking of returning to a potentially abusive situation, discuss an alternative plan with someone you trust.

B. If you have to communicate with your abuser, arrange to do so in a way that makes you feel safest. Whether it be by phone, mail, or with another person.

C. Have positive thoughts about yourself and be assertive with others about your needs.

D. Read books, articles, and poems to give you strength.

E. Decide who you can talk with freely and openly, and who can give you the support you need. Consider calling a domestic violence/crisis helpline.

F. Plan to attend a women’s or victim’s support group for at least two weeks to gain support from others and learn more about yourself and the relationship.

If you are a Teen

(in an abusive or violent relationship)

A. Decide which friend, teacher, relative, or police officer you can tell.

B. Contact an advocate at the court or local domestic violence program to learn how to obtain a restraining order and make a safety plan.

Consider Taking the Following Items if You Leave

  • Driver’s License or other form of ID
  • Money, bank books, checkbooks, credit cards, ATM cards, and mortgage payment book
  • Important papers and documents such as:
    • Birth Certificates
    • Social Security Card
    • Work Permit
    • Passport of Green Card
    • Divorce or custody papers
    • Insurance papers or medical records
    • Lease, rental agreement, or house deed
  • Keys (house, car, office)
  • Medications, glasses, hearing aids, and assistive devices needed for you and your children, grandchildren and other dependents
  • Personal items such as address book, pictures, jewelry, and items of sentimental value for you and your children/grandchildren

Important Telephone Numbers:

Non Emergency Police_____________________

Domestic Abuse Program___________________

County/Tribal Aging Unit____________________

Local Elder Abuse Agency__________________

Child Abuse Hotline_______________________

Youth Hotline____________________________

For information about domestic abuse services outside your community, call:

  • Wisconsin Coalition Against Domestic Violence (608) 255-0539
  • National Domestic Violence Hotline 1-800-799-SAFE (7233)