If someone’s life is in danger, the most important thing is having a plan. Whether a woman is attempting to leave a relationship or is in immediate danger, having a safety plan can make all the difference in the world. Safety planning with survivors of domestic violence is the most CRITICAL component of our work because in the absence of safety planning, no other services can be successfully achieved. Safety planning is the building block of everything else we do in our helping relationship with the survivor.
Safety planning is a CONTINUOUS process that happens throughout the survivor’s services and work with the helping professional or advocate. In successful domestic violence programs and services, safety planning should be weaved throughout all of the services the survivor is receiving.
Survivors have the most success with creating safety for themselves and their families when they have CHOICES. In order for survivors to experience safety, they must have the tools necessary for safety. Resources, services, and healthy relationships with advocates and other helping professionals can give survivors the tools, information, and choices needed to create sustainable safety. The survivor is the expert in her life, and she knows what will work and not work for her family.
Advocates and helping professionals should always first evaluate and assess what the survivor is CURRENTLY doing to keep herself and her family safe, as well as what is already working for her. It’s helpful to ask “What safety plans do you already have in place that are working for you and your family?”
We must always remember that survivors are the experts on their own safety and the safety of their family.
Each individual’s plan will be unique, with safety being of the utmost importance. The checklist below is a sample, but if you or someone you know may be in an abusive relationship, Genesis Women’s Shelter & Support staff is available to help create a personalized safety plan for each particular situation. Learn more about safety planning by clicking here or call our 24-hour hotline at 214.946.HELP(4357).
SAMPLE SAFETY PLAN:
- Open a checking or savings account and a post office box in your own name
- Leave money, a set of keys copies of important documents, extra clothes and medicines in a safe place or with someone you trust.
- Identify a safe place where you and your children can go, or someone who can lend you money.
- Have a packed bag ready at a friend or relative’s house.
- Identify one or more neighbors who will call the police if a disturbance is coming from your home.
- Devise a code word or sign (such as turning on a particular light) to use with your children, family, friends and neighbors when you need them to call 911 for help.
Written by Delana Baker, director of residential services, and Jaclyn Meeks, children’s program director, Genesis Women’s Shelter & Support