Safety planning for a domestic violence emergency can save your life (and your sanity). Safety planning helps while living in an abusive relationship or while you plan to leave.
One of the toughest things about safety planning is that doing so forces you to face what happens in your relationship realistically. When you truthfully analyze your abusive relationship, the panic to leave sets begins. Try to keep your anxiety low with the thought that you have made it this far and you can make it awhile longer as you decide whether to stay or go. I wrote the following long before I left my marriage:
My Department of Social Services counselor has told me that it’s okay for me not to leave this relationship, this marriage, this family. I don’t have to leave just because I know what’s going on. It’s better to plan and think through a domestic violence safety plan than to pick up and leave but have to go back because you weren’t ready.
When I left, I wasn’t ready. My safety planning stopped with the assumption that I would stay with my abuser until I completed my bachelor’s degree. Part of me felt like I betrayed my husband by safety planning. Writing out felt what I could do if he acted out felt horrible. I wrote about my mistakes in Emergency Plan = Emotional Pain.
Important Safety Planning Considerations
It is very important that you keep your safety plan confidential. Be very careful who you ask to help you with your safety planning. Make sure the people you trust will not run back to your abuser and spill the beans. Even if you’re planning to stay, your abuser will not like that you’ve talked to anyone about what he does.
I began my safety planning with the Army’s DD Form 2893 (their safety plan), but it didn’t help me think through my safety while living with my abuser. Safety planning for right now is as important as safety planning for when you leave. To put both ends of safety planning together, I created a safety plan that will help you to stay safer while living with your abuser and guide you toward planning a safe escape when (and if) you’re ready.
Download the Verbal Abuse Journal Safety Plan
As good as I think my safety plan is, I highly recommend that you speak with a counselor or hotline representative too. They have done this sort of planning before, and talking with them will make your planning easier and less stressful to complete.
Download the Domestic Violence Safety Plan to print at home.
Please add your comments and suggestions for improvements to this plan below.