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Domestic Violence Safety Plan

Are you afraid to go home?
Maybe the beatings and blow-ups just began. Maybe they've been going on for a while.

It's terrible to feel afraid of your husband or boyfriend.

But trust that feeling—it could save your life, if you're ready with a plan.

Learning to recognize your abuse
First things first: Protect yourself when he attacks
Plan your escape route
Learn how to delete your computer's browser history
What to do immediately after escaping abuse
"My Safety Plan worksheet"

Learning to recognize your abuse

Beating is just one form of abuse.

If your partner hits or slaps you, it's abuse. If he shoves, kicks or pulls your hair, it's abuse.

But there are other kinds of abuse:

  • Does he yell at you, call you names, shame you?
  • Does he blame you for problems—whether you're responsible or not?
  • Is he jealous—does he try to keep you away from your family and friends? Does he refuse to let you use the phone?
  • Is he possessive? Does he insist you stay inside your home, need to know where you are at all times, discourage you from working—or call you at work repeatedly to "check in"? Does he accuse you of cheating on him?
  • Does he stalk or spy on you?

This behavior is emotional abuse. It hurts you and your children. And emotional abuse often turns into physical abuse.

Now there's help: Make a domestic violence safety plan
To protect yourself and your children, you can use these pages to make a plan.

Important: Before you print and use these pages, you must find a safe place—away from your home—to leave the pages. Don't leave revealing papers in your home–you risk a blow-up from your partner.

Read the following suggestions and fill in "My Safety Plan Worksheet."

First things first: Protect yourself when he attacks

  • Teach your kids to use the phone in an emergency. Put 911 on your phone's speed dial. Or train your children to dial 911 or to call a family member or trusted friend.
  • Give your kids a "code word" that signals them to make an emergency phone call.
  • Tell your neighbors about your abuse, if you feel you can trust them. Ask your neighbors to call 911 if they hear suspicious noises.
  • Stay away from the bathroom, kitchen, rooms without windows or doors, or any room where your partner can grab a weapon when a fight starts.
  • Give in if you have to. Say or do whatever you need to in order to protect yourself until you're out of danger.
  • When you can get away, always try to take your children with you.

Plan your escape route

  • Choose TWO safe places you can escape to. Your first safe place might be the home of a friend or family member. If possible, choose a nearby domestic violence shelter for your second safe place. To find a shelter near you, call 800-621-HOPE (4673), Safe Horizon's Domestic Violence Hotline.
  • Think through your escape route: Know the doors, windows, fire escapes and elevators you will use to get out of your home.
  • Locate the closest pay phones in your neighborhood. Try to choose phones that are available day and night–and are located in public places like bodegas, restaurants or stores.
  • Do not use your home phone or cell phone: Your partner can trace the numbers you call. Keep a roll of quarters on you at all times to use at pay phones.
  • Make a checklist of important papers and items to take with you when you escape. See My Safety Plan Worksheet.
  • Rehearse and practice your escape plan.

Learn how to delete your computer's browser history

  • DO NOT use your home computer—or any computer your partner uses-if you can avoid it. Your partner may discover your plans.
  • Try to use a computer away from home—a computer that belongs to a family member or trusted friend. Or use a computer at your local library.
  • Don't send email or save documents that reveal your plans if you must use your home computer.
  • Learn how to hide your online tracks: Find out how to delete your online history with these directions from Safe Horizon.

What to do immediately after escaping abuse

  • Call the police and report the abuse.
  • Do not go home to pick up forgotten items.
  • Don't contact your partner.
  • Get an Order of Protection: Keep a copy on you at all times—when you change purses, be sure it's the first thing you transfer. Leave a copy at your local police station.
  • Replace the Order of Protection immediately if it's lost or stolen.

"My Safety Plan worksheet"

I need to take steps to make sure my kids and I can escape my partner's violence.

If a fight begins in my home, I'll stay out of the kitchen, bathroom or any room in which a weapon is kept. The safest room in my home is:


Here's the code word that signals my kids to make an emergency call:


In my home, the best doors for escape are located here:

__________________________ and here:


In my home, the best windows for escape are located here:

_______________________ and here:


Here are two safe places I can go if I have to leave my home in an emergency:

1. ____________________________________________________

2. ____________________________________________________

Here are two nearby places that have public pay phones:

1. ____________________________________________________

2. ____________________________________________________

I will pack an emergency bag and leave it at a friend's home–or some other safe place. In my emergency bag I'll try to take as many of the following items as possible:

  • Change of clothes for myself and my children, diapers, wipes, bottles, formula, pacifier, snacks, small toys.
  • Toothbrush, brush, personal hygiene items, make-up if I wear it
  • Medications
  • Money and quarters to make phone calls at a pay phone–it's dangerous to use my home phone or cell phone.
  • Credit cards, ATM card, bank records
  • Copies of birth, marriage and divorce certificates
  • Children's school, immunization and medical records
  • Medical insurance or Medicaid card
  • Social Security card, driver's license
  • Passports, Green Card, work papers, welfare card
  • Copies of house and car keys
  • Small, valuable items–such as jewelry–that I can sell
  • Photos or sentimental items
  • Lease
  • Important telephone numbers: family, friends, doctors, priest, pastor, rabbi or imam, the closest domestic violence shelter

Need to speak with someone about the violence in your home? Call these hotline numbers day or night, seven days a week.

What's next? As you move forward after escaping domestic violence, use these suggestions to help you heal and prevent future domestic violence.

Want to learn more about domestic violence? Check out our resources for families.