I have been talking about what to do if you decide you are being abused. One of the most important things to do is to get information. One of the best places to get this information is to call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1−800−799−SAFE(7233) or TTY 1−800−787−3224. Their operators are very well trained, and will be able to point you to local resources in your area. One of the most important things they might talk to you about is creating a Safety Plan.
What is a safety plan?
A safety plan is a plan of action that helps keep you safe no matter whether you stay in your relationship, or whether you plan to leave it.
Each person’s plan will be personal to her. However, there are some things that are common to many people. I have seen two different on-line sites that give a good description of safety plans. I do recommend that you call the National Domestic Violence Hotline to tailor your safety plan to your specific circumstances.
The first site that I recommend is found at Domesticviolence.org.
The second site is from Kellie Jo Holly’s website Verbal Abuse Journals. This one was taken from the Army’s safety plan, and it is very comprehensive. Scroll to the bottom of the page to get a free download. If you are a counselor or domestic violence advocate, or want to purchase her official printed version, click here.
I would add a three things. The first is, LEAVE YOUR CELL PHONE BEHIND. Did you know your partner can track you through your cell phone? Most cell phones today have tracking devices in them. So, if you take it with you, he can find you wherever you are.
The second thing I would add is, add any pets you have to your safety plan. This doesn’t mean that you must take all pets with you if you are fleeing for your life. However, try to make arrangements for them at some point, either before you leave or shortly thereafter. Why is this important? Abusers will often harm the family pets as a way to terrorize their victims. The threat of this will often bring a woman back to the abusive home against her will. So, if your pets and children are safely out of the home, there will be no need for you to return.
The third thing I would add is that getting documents (such as birth certificates, social security cards, marriage licenses) before you leave is important. At times, it might be dangerous to take the originals of these documents. In this case, you can take a picture of them. Often, having a picture will allow you to easily get replacement copies later. Note: Find a safe place to store these pictures. Keeping them on your cell phone or computer may put you at risk. Also, if you leave quickly, you will probably not have your computer or phone with you. Try to download these pictures, and store them on a flash drive that you can hide away from your home or car.
Does thinking about making a safety plan seem frightening to you, or does it give you comfort? I hope it is the latter. It is meant to help keep you, your children and your pets safe. God wants you to remain safe, because He loves you. Here is a prayer that David wrote when he was in the desert fleeing from those who wanted to kill him, Psalm 63:1-8:
You, God, are my God,
earnestly I seek you;
I thirst for you,
my whole being longs for you,
in a dry and parched land
where there is no water.
I have seen you in the sanctuary
and beheld your power and your glory.
Because your love is better than life,
my lips will glorify you.
I will praise you as long as I live,
and in your name I will lift up my hands.
I will be fully satisfied as with the richest of foods;
with singing lips my mouth will praise you.