Safety Plan

Safety Plan

Leaving an abusive relationship can be a dangerous undertaking. Create a plan for where you will go to be safe, and prepare in advance as much as possible:

  1. Always trust your instincts. Prioritize your safety until you are out of danger. If you feel unsafe, contact law enforcement. Use your intuition and judgment. Change passwords on your phone and computer, and delete your browsing history to prevent the abuser from becoming aware of your plans.
  2. Contact law enforcement. Document all incidents of domestic violence. If the police do not help in a time of crisis or refuse to respond to a violation of a protective order, ask to speak to the watch commander. If the police do come, you can request an Emergency Protective Order. Follow up on options related to filing a restraining order. If your abuser is a law enforcement officer contact a hotline for support.
  3. Contact local hotlines. If you feel unsafe in your home contact a local women’s shelter for information and options. Accept as much help as you can. Reach out to trusted friends or family members to see if they can help provide a safe place or money in case of an emergency. It is better to go somewhere your abuser doesn’t know. If possible, open a bank account in your name and keep cash with you at all times. 
  4. Keep your phone charged. Have a fully charged cell phone and bring it with you wherever you go. Memorize at least one important phone number of a safe person you can call in the event you don't have access to your phone. Remove your abuser as an emergency contact wherever applicable.
  5. Disable GPS tracking features. Cellphones may have GPS tracking features where calls made can be traced to specific cell towers to establish the caller's location. Geo-coding features can identify the location of your social media post. You can disable these features. Make sure to review your social media friends to ensure that these are not people who can disclose your location to anyone. Review your settings to ensure you cannot be tagged at locations.
  6. Plan with your children. Teach your children how to call 9-1-1 and other emergency contacts. Have a code word that will tell them to get help in a time of crisis. Teach them strategies to help keep your family safe.
  7. Important documents. Keep copies of important documents and an extra set of keys easily accessible and in a safe place at all times for you and your children (e.g. birth certificates, passports, social security cards, school records, and copies of protective orders). You can also keep a bag with clothes, medications, jewelry/items of sentimental value, children's favorite toys, safe numbers/contacts, and other important items. Consider using a secure cloud storage service to upload copies of your documents or save them on a USB flash drive.
  8. Avoid being alone. If your abuser is stalking or harassing you, avoid being alone when possible. Use a buddy system. If the abuser follows you while driving, go to the local law enforcement station and lay on the horn for immediate assistance. Plan a safe route to frequently visited places and change routes when possible.
  9.  Seek support. Consider if and when to tell others about your experience with domestic violence and that you may still be at risk. You may want to ask your neighbors to call the police if they see or hear suspicious activity.
  10.  Custody and Visitation. If you must have contact with your abuser due to custody issues, do not meet them alone or go to their home or any place that could be dangerous for you and your kids. When possible, avoid talking to them or seeing them and follow legal mandates and any court orders. Consult with an attorney as needed for child visitation.

Your safety plans may change, as your circumstances change. Update your plan as needed. 

Adapted from Safety Planning, A Guide for Survivors of Domestic Violence, Neighborhood Legal Services of Los Angeles County,

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