Safety planning is thinking about things you can do to be safer when living with violence or abuse
The best way to make a safety plan is with the help of a support service
Trusted friends and family members can also play a role, as well as advocates for older people and people with disability
If you would like support with making a safety plan, you can contact 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or through the online chat service
A safety plan is a plan that is created to help you to avoid dangerous situations, or how to act in risky situations. It is a plan that is developed by you, for you (and your children). It includes how to be safe when you are in a relationship, if you are deciding to leave a relationship, or how to be safe when you have left a relationship. One of the most important parts of a safety plan is to have a strong safety network of people that you can contact anytime if you need help.
While you might think that just deciding what to do on-the-spot seems like an okay idea, it is always better to plan ahead and decide on what your strategy will be in each circumstance.
Safety planning looks different for different types of abuse. You safety plan should be tailored to your specific situation.
If your partner is physically violent, ensure that you have a place in the house where you can run to. Make sure that this place has no weapons (e.g. not in the kitchen where there are knives, not in a back shed where there might be an axe, etc.). Try to carry a phone with you and alert police if you think it is safe to do so. If you are able to access an exit point near your safe place, exit if you feel that it is safe to do so.
In the case that you are unable to flee, or to seek help via the phone, and your partner is assulting you, ensure that you are protected as best as possible (i.e. this might mean that you have to curl-up on the floor and protect your head).
If you have children, ensure that you tell them not to get involved when your partner is attacking you, and to stay in their rooms or another location that they have on their safety plan. If they have a phone and you think it is safe for them to do so, notify them to call the Police on 000 once they are in their safe place.
If your partner abuses you emotionally, it is really important to maintain a strong social support network. This should include your friends and family. Stay socially active as much as you can: join sporting groups, community activities, take a short course, spend time with people from work etc. If you feel as though you trust a person well enough and you feel comfortable to do so, tell people that you need help and make sure you put them on your safety plan.
Ensure that you have healthy coping mechanisms such as meditation, taking a walk, having a bath, reading a book, etc. You can always call 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732) to receive free counselling. Keeping a journal or diary with stories about happy times in your life will help too. Try to aviod self-medicating and other unhealthy ways of coping with the abuse.
Safety Planning with Children
Children need to have their own safety plan and to be a part of your safety plan. Teach children how to get help and how to be safe when you are being abused. Do practice runs including how to exit the house in different locations safely, and what to do if you are being abused (i.e. where to hide, who to call etc.). Code words are also helpful in safety planning with children. Come up with code words for calling someone to help, or telling them to hide in their safe place, etc.
If you have a good relationship with your neighbours, tell the children to run to their house when necessary, and to call the police. They can also keep an overnight bag at the house for when they might need it.
Note: Some of the information on this page has been adapted from the US National Domestic Violence hotline website.
Domestic and family violence: how to make a plan to look after yourself - 1800RESPECT