Recognizing that something has to change is the first step
You are never to blame for the abusive actions of others. While responsibility for ending abusive behavior is your partner’s and theirs alone, there are several steps you can take to protect yourself on your path to long-term safety. Our advocates are available 24/7 to help create a personalized safety plan that’s right for you.
Developing Safety Plans
The National Domestic Violence Hotline has an interactive safety planning page. You can call us to work through it together with support in ASL. Check out our tips for safety planning below.
We don't give legal advice but there are legal resources available
A protective order is a legal document intended to prohibit your partner from physically coming near you or harming or harassing you, your children, or other loved ones. You can apply for a protective order at courthouses. Protective orders may be able to put a stop to physical abuse, but they depend on your partner's adherence to the law and law enforcement's willingness to enforce the protective order. Psychological abuse is still possible, and a protective order should never replace a safety plan.Learn More
One way to stay safe is to remember to delete our number from your phone and clear your internet browser history after visiting our website
The internet can be an essential resource to access help and information, and valuable platforms to connect with friends, family members, advocates, and service providers.
Email can be a useful way to keep in touch with trusted friends and family members who may be aware of your situation. An abusive partner is likely to know this and may have access to your email account without your knowledge.
One possible option is to open an account your partner doesn't know about on a safe computer and use that email for safety planning and sensitive communications.
Cell Phone Safety
Cell phones provide quick access to resources and information, but it can also give other people instant updates on your whereabouts, habits, and activities. Cell phones can be used to track your location and retrieve call and text history.
Social Media Safety
Posts on social media are never truly private, no matter your settings; once it's online, it's no longer under your control.
Be protective of your personal information, and remember that phone numbers, addresses, handles, and personal details (like birth date, schools you attended, employers, and photos with landmarks) may make it easier for someone to reach you.
Safety Planning With Children
An effective safety plan includes personalized planning to keep your children safe at home and during any unsupervised time they may spend with your partner. That includes talking to your children about age-appropriate ways to protect themselves when violence occurs, as well as details and items to remember while preparing to leave an abusive situation and after.
Remind them that their first responsibility is their own safety
Teach them that you want everyone to be safe and that the preparations you’re making are to ensure their safety and everyone else’s during an emergency.
Never blame your children for their responses to your partner's abusive behavior
Even if they intentionally or unintentionally reveal your plan to leave. Make sure they know the violence isn’t their fault and that abuse is never okay, even when it comes from someone they love.
Your partner may try to use your children to harm you
They may abuse, threaten, harrass, or manipulate them. Examples include preventing you from seeing your children, calling or threatening to call police or immigration enforcement to gain custody of your children, humiliating you in front of them, using your children to monitor your behavior, or lying to your children to turn them against you.
It's important that your children have access to safe people other than yourself
Help them identify these people in their life and make sure they can contact them when needed. If possible, enroll them in a culturally relevant counseling program or therapy specializing in child counseling. Many domestic violence shelters offer children's counseling.
Children who experience abusive situations are forced to process complex emotions
Planning for your children's physical and emotional health is essential for their short-term and long-term wellbeing, no matter how old they are.
Safety Planning With Pets
According to Safe Place for Pets, up to 65% of domestic violence victims are unable to escape their abusive partners because they are concerned about what will happen to their pets when they leave. In many cases, victims of domestic violence may try to take their pets with them when they are able to leave the relationship but find that their local domestic violence shelters do not accept pets. Fortunately, this is changing, and shelters for domestic violence and abuse victims are beginning to create spaces for pets.