First rule of Safety Planning:
If you believe that you (or a loved one) are in immediate danger –
forget the safety plan
go to a room with a quick escape
or, make yourself into a very small ball and cover your head with your arms
If you are not in immediate danger, or if the danger has momentarily passed (and you are alive and able to physically function), take advantage of the “down time” or potential “honeymoon phase” in the cycle of abuse, and make your safety plan.
Even if you do not feel like it or you are scared.
MAKE YOUR SAFETY PLAN
If you are witness to a loved one in an abusive situation, help them with their safety plan. Being abused is very stressful and confusing, which makes it hard to concentrate on more than basic survival skills. Be patient with us. Be gentle with us. Do not allow us to forget that you care.
Help us MAKE OUR SAFETY PLAN
Stash Some Cash
No matter how short or long-term the plan is for extricating from an abusive situation, you are going to want some cash for gasoline, food, and possibly a hotel room. The important part of this step is to make sure that you have some cash (not credit card, not in a bank account, not checks – actual physical cash).
Hide the cash away for yourself in a location or with a very trusted person, known only to you. If you need ideas on where to hide cash, message me and I will help you.
Get copies of all important documents
All Driver’s Licenses of any driver in the home
All Passports of anyone in the home
All Social Security Cards of anyone in the home
All Birth Certificates of anyone in the home
Passwords for computers/Wi-Fi/Phones/accounts etc
All joint and individual Credit Cards (front and back)
Recent Bank statements
Recent Tax Returns
Recent Mortgage statement
Recent Investment Accounts (including retirement accounts)
Recent Credit Card Statements
Recent Utility bills
Medications of anyone in the home (take photos of the labels)
List of medical conditions of anyone in the home
List of Emergency Contacts (extended family, trusted friends, etc)
You can earnestly begin making a “Home Management Binder” to begin collecting this information into one location. It’s useful to have it together in case of any emergency (not just a safety plan for an abusive situation). If you cannot gather all of this information, start at the top of the list and work your way down through what is easily available and important to you.
Pack a Bag
Be very careful. If an abuser gets a “heads up” that you might be preparing to leave, this may escalate the abuse into a very dangerous situation. When the abuser is not around, find a small bag and pack some essentials, just in case you need to make a quick get-away.
Clothes and toiletries for a few days for each person fleeing (you and possibly children) plus important document copies from above
A comfort thing for each child (small stuffed toy, little blanket)
Know Where to Go
Map out where you might go (Domestic Violence shelter, trusted friend, trusted family member, etc)
Prepare an emergency email (if your account is absolutely secure) to send to trusted family and friends, which includes why you left the home and how they may contact you.
Write down your Safety Plan and give a copy to your trusted friend/pastor/family member/therapist.
Do NOT immediately disclose your location when you leave. Even trusted family and friends will have a difficult time through this situation, and may inadvertently compromise your safety by trying to “help,” you. Especially if they are not witness to the abuse (frequently they are not), or do not understand the cycle of abuse. They may encounter the abuser in their contrite, charming, reformed phase of abuse and believe them to be safe.
The abuser is NOT a safe person.
The abuser will NEVER be a safe person for you.
Think of it this way. If you had any control over the abuser and their actions, then they would not be abusing you – right? No one would choose to be abused (I’m not talking about consensual role playing). An abuser will always be abusive to you, it’s just a matter of degree. That is your relationship with them – abuser and victim. If you are looking for a different kind of relationship, you need to find a different person to have it with. Likewise, if you want your abuser to stop abusing you, you have to leave and allow them to find a different relationship where they might have the potential to not be abusive.
With you, they are ALWAYS going to be the abuser.
Don’t worry if you cannot accept this last bit. I have many days where I still have to remind myself of that hard truth. That is another whole post though, dear reader.
So I’ll leave you with this:
Call 911 if in immediate danger
Stash some Cash
Pack a Bag
Know Where to Go
Take good care of you. The whole world is counting on it!
Love, Ms. Herisme xo
I am not a credentialed expert. I am speaking about this through my own, and others I know, personal experiences. Please call the National Domestic Violence hotline, or your local Domestic Violence Shelter for more information. For other Safety Plan information, click here.
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