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Make a Safety Plan

The first step is tough—deciding to leave. It's a hard call but also empowering. Once you've chosen a safer, more stable life, the rest gets easier. Now, just make a plan and follow it step by step.​ It might take months or even years to gather the courage to leave an abusive relationship. Obstacles will come your way, but take them on one by one, conquering each step as you go.


For more information, please download our Safety Plan Resource by clicking the link below.

Image by Wesley Tingey

Preparing to Leave:

Create a safety plan tailored for you and your children:

  • Keep crucial numbers at hand – police, domestic violence hotlines, friends, and the local shelter.

  • Confide in trustworthy friends or neighbors about the abuse, sharing your plans to leave and asking them to call the police if they detect signs of danger.

  • Educate your children on when and how to dial 911.

  • Establish a discreet code word for immediate assistance when communicating with friends, neighbors, or family.

  • Practice a safe exit from your home.

  • Designate a secure zone within your house, free of weapons, as a refuge during potentially dangerous situations.

  • If an abusive episode seems imminent, guide your abuser toward this safe zone to minimize potential harm.

  • Conceal or remove any weapons in the home.

  • Identify a safe location to go if you decide to leave.

  • Incorporate "routine" activities into your plans, such as taking out the trash or walking the dog, to gradually spend time outside the house.

  • Prepare a bag with essential items and hide it in an accessible location.

A Checklist of Helpful Items:

  • Children (if it is safe and if you have legal custody)

  • Money

  • Keys to car, house, work

  • Extra set of keys to car, house, work

  • Personal care items for self and children

  • Clothing for self and children

  • Items needed for work (work shoes, ID tag, etc.)

  • Children’s school-related materials (book bags, homework, etc.)

  • Cell phone and charger

  • Extra cell phone and charger

  • Medicine for self and children

  • Important papers for self and children (birth certificates, Social Security cards, protective order, marriage license, divorce papers, custody orders, children’s immunization records, bank statements, recent tax documents)

  • Bank debit card, checkbook, and credit cards

  • Driver’s license

  • Car registration and title or lease, rental, or loan agreement

  • Government assistance cards (food stamps, etc.)

  • Passports, green cards, work permits

  • Housing mortgage or rental agreement

  • Mortgage payment book

  • Unpaid bills

  • Insurance papers

  • List of friends and family members’ addresses and phone numbers for self and children

  • Laptop computer or save important files on memory card/zip drive

  • Photos, jewelry, & things that mean a lot to you

  • Items for your children (toys, blankets, etc.)

  • Pets (if possible or make arrangements for their care) 

Image by Erol Ahmed
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