When faced with the threat of Intimate Partner Violence, clear and decisive safety planning can mean the difference between life and death for you and your loved ones.
Here are a few simple tips to help you create a Safety Plan that will help you and your family escape your situation and get to a safe location without harm.
First, Locate a Domestic Violence Shelter Near You
The first step to creating a Safety Plan is to find the nearest shelters for women and children, so that you know you have a safe place to go when you leave. Many shelters also offer health services, support groups and special programs for children.
Remember that leaving your home for safety reasons does not mean you lose the right to return to your home. If you leave for safety reasons, you cannot be accused of desertion.
Collect Your Important Documents and Personal Items
Once you have a safe destination in mind, start collecting all of your important documents and personal items to bring with you when you leave. Focus on the most important items for the health and wellbeing of you and your family, as well as any necessary legal documents that cannot be replaced.
Keep the following somewhere safe (in a secure but accessible hiding place in your home) or with someone you trust:
- A spare set of keys
- Extra money (use cash if you are concerned about being stalked)
- Credit cards, debit cards and checkbooks
- A set of clothes for you and your children
- Prescriptions and medications
- Copies of important papers (passport, marriage license, deed to house or lease, birth certificates for you and children, medical records, records of pet ownership, social security cards, school and vaccine records)
- A favorite toy for your child(ren)
- Other important items (photos, address book, jewelry, etc.)
If you have a pet you will be taking when you leave, have a leash, crate, or even a pillowcase available to quickly transport them as well at their items.
Plan With Your Children
While it is every parent’s natural urge to protect their children from harm and hardship, you should make sure that your children understand what is happening. Domestic abuse can have serious effects on children, and there are ways you can keep them safe.
They need to know that their job is to stay safe, and not to protect you. Choose a safe place outside the home where they can go in case of an emergency, such as the home of a trusted neighbor. You should also teach them the quickest way to exit the home safely in the event of an emergency situation.
Remember, You Are Not Alone
Creating a safety plan is important for ensuring safety for you and your family, but you don’t have to make it alone. Through our 24-Hour Emergency Hotline, Women’s Center & Shelter Advocates can help you make a Safety Plan and provide support during the entire process.
If you would like to discuss Safety Planning or design a Safety Plan to meet your needs, please call our free and confidential 24-Hour Hotline at 412-687-8005 ext. 1 or toll-free at 877-338-TALK (8255).