At Aware Central Texas, one of the ways we assist we assist survivors of domestic violence is by creating a safety plan. A safety plan is a personalized, practical plan that includes ways to remain safe while in a relationship, planning to leave, or after an individual leaves a relationship Safety planning involves how to cope with emotions, tell friends and family about the abuse, or the processes to seek a protective order. . At, Aware, we safety plan with survivors, friends and family members — anyone who is concerned about their own safety or the safety of someone else.
Sofia Padin, Family Violence Unit case manager at Aware states, “Safety Plans are unique to each individual and their situation, there are many ways a survivor can stay safe during and after an abusive relationship.”
Examples of what may be discussed or outlined in a safety plan include the following:
- Identifying the perpetrators use and level of force so that the client can assess the risk of physical danger to themselves and their children before it occurs.
- Identifying safe areas of the house where there are no weapons and there are ways to escape. If an argument escalates, the client is encouraged try to move to those areas.
- Clients are urged to not run to where the children are, as their partner may hurt them as well.
- If violence is unavoidable, clients are directed to make themselves a small target. Dive into a corner and curl up into a ball with your face protected and arms around each side of your head, fingers entwined.
- If possible, always have a phone accessible and know what numbers to call for help. Know where the nearest public phone is located. Know the phone number to your local shelter. If your life is in danger, call the police.
- Let trusted friends and neighbors know of your situation and develop a plan and visual signal for when help is needed.
- Clients are urged to teach their children how to get help. Instruct them not to get involved in the violence between them and their partner. Code words are encouraged to signal to them that they should get help or leave the house.
- Tell your children that violence is never right, even when someone they love is being violent. Tell them that neither you, nor they, are at fault or are the cause of the violence, and that when anyone is being violent, it is important to stay safe.
- Practice how to get out safely. Practice with this with their children.
- Plan for what they will do if their partner finds out about their plan.
- Keeping weapons like guns and knives locked away and as inaccessible as possible.
- Make a habit of backing the car into the driveway and keeping it fueled. Keep the driver’s door unlocked and others locked — for a quick escape.
- Try not to wear scarves or long jewelry that could be used to strangle.
- Create several plausible reasons for leaving the house at different times of the day or night.
A safety plan will contain all the vital information a client may need and be tailored to the client’s unique situation. A detailed safety plan will assist in walking the individual through different scenarios. Although some of the things that are outlined in a safety plan may seem obvious, it’s important to remember that in moments of crisis the brain doesn’t function the same way as when you are calm. When adrenaline is pumping through an individual’s veins it can be become difficult to think clearly or make logical decisions about their safety, having a safety plan laid out in advance may help individuals protect themselves and their children, as well as, react appropriately in violent situations.
Next week, we will continue to discuss how survivors navigate the path to safety and how they may apply for protective orders and the resources available to assist them in Central Texas.