TWI Empowerment: Domestic Violence Safety Planning

Many victims of domestic violence may struggle with accessing adequate help or learning how to protect themselves and their children. Below is a proposed safety plan with practical methods to help victims escape from dangerous situations. Victims are encouraged to use and personalize these methods to address their current situations.

  1. Find the “safest room”, or a low-risk area of the house, to move to during an argument. Hide potential weapons and locate exits to the outside.
  2. If violence is unavoidable, minimize harm by becoming a small target. Curl up in a corner with your face down and arms locked around your head.
  3. Refrain from wearing scarves or jewelry that could be used to strangle you.
  4. Keep any evidence of physical abuse through pictures and a journal noting the dates and details of abusive events.
  5. Make copies and take photos of important documents.
  6. Acquire job skills online or at a community college to work towards financial independence. Set money aside in a safe place.
  7. Designate a safe space in your house that can be used to call emergency services using an old cellphone. Always keep a phone charger on you, and wear clothing with pockets to carry both.
  8. Establish a “code word” with friends and family to alert them for help. 
  9. Come up with several plausible reasons to leave the house at different times of the day or night.
  10. Pack a bag for a quick escape that includes any important documents and medication. Practice how to leave safely. Keep the car backed into the driveway and fully fueled, with only the driver’s door unlocked.
  11. Use distancing techniques to diffuse abusive situations such as spending time in a different area of the home or getting outside.
  12. Establish and use discrete code words with your children to alert them to leave the house or call for help. Never run to a room where the children are, as they may be hurt as well.
  13. Enroll yourself and your children in counseling services, if possible.
  14. Look into emergency custody petitions pertaining to the safety of your children. Visit WomensLaw.org for information on court operations.
  15. Call the police in the case of any life-threatening emergency.
  16. Contact your local clinics or domestic violence agencies to alert them of your situation and get additional information.

Sources: National Domestic Violence Hotline and Women Against Abuse

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