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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Refrain from wearing scarves or jewelry that could be used to strangle you.
- Keep any evidence of physical abuse through pictures and a journal noting the dates and details of abusive events.
- Make copies and take photos of important documents.
- Acquire job skills online or at a community college to work towards financial independence. Set money aside in a safe place.
- 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.
- Establish a “code word” with friends and family to alert them for help.
- Come up with several plausible reasons to leave the house at different times of the day or night.
- 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.
- Use distancing techniques to diffuse abusive situations such as spending time in a different area of the home or getting outside.
- 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.
- Enroll yourself and your children in counseling services, if possible.
- Look into emergency custody petitions pertaining to the safety of your children. Visit WomensLaw.org for information on court operations.
- Call the police in the case of any life-threatening emergency.
- 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