Making a safety plan

"A safety plan helps you to think and plan in advance for the possibility of abuse or violence and is a way for you to protect yourself and your children. It also helps you to think about how you can increase your safety either within the relationship, or if you decide to leave."


(Womens Aid)



You can’t stop your partner’s violence and abuse and you aren’t to blame for it either. There are things you can do to increase your own and your children’s safety. Some of these things you may do instinctively, others you may not have thought of.  Ultimately only you will know what will and wont work.  Planning is key to both identifying patterns in your partners behaviour or things you can do to increase your safety.  It is also important to recognise cycles of abuse within the relationship, and to put plans in place to keep you safe.

Things to consider for your safety plan

Planning for Crisis

  • If you suspect that your partner is about to attack you, try to go to a lower risk area of the house – for example where there is a way out and access to a telephone. Avoid the kitchen or garage where there are likely to be knives or other weapons; and avoid rooms where you might be trapped, such as the bathroom, or where you might be shut into a cupboard or other small space.

  • Plan in advance how you might respond in different situations, including crisis situations.

  • Think about the different options that may be available to you.

  • Rehearse an escape plan, so in an emergency you and the children can get away safely.

  • Are there neighbours you could trust, and where you could go in an emergency? If so, tell them what is going on, and ask them to call the police if they hear sounds of a violent attack.

  • Teach your children to call 999 in an emergency, and what they would need to say (for example, their full name, address and telephone number).

Be prepared to leave the house in an emergency

  • Keep with you any important and emergency telephone numbers; the police domestic violence unit; your GP; your social worker, if you have one; your children’s school; your solicitor; and the Freephone 24 Hour National Domestic Violence Helpline run in partnership between Women’s Aid and Refuge: 0808 2000 247).

  •  Know where the nearest phone is, and if you have a mobile phone, try to keep it with you.

  • Try to keep a small amount of money on you at all times – including change for the phone and for bus fares.

  • Pack an emergency bag for yourself and your children, and hide it somewhere safe (for example, at a neighbour’s or friend’s house, we do not recommend this be left at your own property).

  • Try to avoid mutual friends or family.


If You Decide To Leave The Relationship

There may come a time when you may feel the only option is to leave your partner.  If you do decide to leave your partner, it is best if you can plan this carefully. Sometimes abusers will increase their abuse if they suspect you are leaving, and may continue to do so after you have left.  This can be a particularly dangerous time for you, so It’s important to remember that ending the relationship will not necessarily end the abuse. Planning to leave, doesn’t mean you have to do it straight away or even at all, thinking about leaving and making the decision to actually leave are two very different and difficult things to do, it can be a long process but it may help to be able to consider all the options and think about how you could overcome the difficulties involved.


  • Plan to leave at a time you know your partner will not be around.

  • Try to take everything you will need with you, including any important documents relating to yourself and your children, as you may not be able to return later.

  • Take your children with you, otherwise it may be difficult or impossible to have them living with you in future. If they are at school, make sure that the head and all your children’s teachers know what the situation is, and who will be collecting the children in future.

Protecting yourself after you have left

Protecting yourself after you have left

If you leave your partner because of abuse, you may not want people to know.  However your friends and family will be better prepared to help in case of emergency. It is your decision what you tell people, but remember to inform your children’s school, and your employer  what is happening, so that they do not inadvertently give out any information to your ex-partner.


  • Try not to place yourself in a vulnerable position or isolate yourself.

  • Try to alter your routines and appointments as much as you can.

  • Tell your children’s school, nursery or childminder what has happened, and let them know who will pick them up. Make sure they do not release the children to anyone else, or give your new address or telephone number to anyone. (You may want to establish a password with them, and give them copies of any court orders, if you have them.)

  • Your mobile phone could be ‘tracked’ if you are in any doubt, change your phone.

  • Try to avoid using shared credit or debit cards or joint bank accounts

  • Make sure that your address does not appear on any court papers. (If you are staying in a refuge, they will advise you on this.)

  • If you need to phone your abuser (or anyone with whom he is in contact), make sure your telephone number is untraceable by dialling 141 before ringing.

  • Talk to your children about the need to keep your address and location confidential

If you stay or return to your home

It is important to know that you do not have to stay at home if you do not feel safe there, however there are a few things you can do to keep you safer.

  • Changing the locks on all doors.

  • Putting locks on all windows if you don’t have them already.

  • Installing smoke detectors on each floor, and providing fire extinguishers.

  • Installing an outside light (back and front) which comes on automatically when someone approaches.

  • Informing the neighbours that your partner no longer lives there, and asking them to tell you or call the police if they see him nearby.

  • Changing your telephone number and making it ex-directory.

  • Using an answering machine to screen calls.

  • Keeping copies of all court orders together with dates and times of previous incidents and call-outs for reference if you need to call the police again.

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Remember if you are in danger call 999