Safety Planning

Safety planning is an ongoing process. 

If you are in immediate danger, please call 911 immediately.

Contact a nearby licensed domestic violence program to connect with an advocate who can help. You can also call a national hotline.

    • U.S. National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 (SAFE) or TTY at 1-800-787-3224

    • U.S. National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-4673 automatically connect you to a local U.S. rape crisis program near your phone number’s area code.

    • Scroll down on our home page to find other helpful resources 

  • Be aware that many cell phones and cell phone plans have location tracking (GPS) features that an abuser with access could use to learn where you are, or where you have been. Scroll down on this page to learn more about digital safety.

 

  • Practice how to escape your home safely with the kids.
  • Keep your keys and a packed “go bag” readily available.
  • Teach the kids when and how to dial 911 in emergencies.
  • Remember the safety of your pets or service animals.
  • Plan a safe place to go if you feel unsafe – avoid roads with no exits or rooms with weapons.
  • Save emergency funds in a bank account in your name.
  • Rehearse your safety plan with your children.
  • Plan for your digital safety by securing devices & passwords. (See more about digital safety below on this page.)
  • IDs: Drivers license, work permits, EBT/SNAP cards, green cards, passports, social security cards
  • Car title, registration, insurance
  • Birth certificates & custody papers
  • Computer, laptop, other devices. Log out of all devices left behind
  • Phone and charger: Transfer contacts to new or prepaid phone
  • Cash, debit/credit cards, online banking app, checkbook
  • Keys for house, car, work, safety deposit boxes, etc.
  • Medications & assistive devices
  • Divorce papers, DVPO
  • Pets and pet supplies
  • Lease/rental agreement, house deed, insurance paperwork
  • Language support apps
  • Toiletries, clothing, travel needs
  • Toys and games for the kids
  • If you have a Domestic Violence Protective Order (DVPO), keep a copy of it with you or near you at all times.
  • Change your locks if your abuser has a key to your home.
  • Call police immediately if the DVPO is violated, and keep records of any violations.  
  • Save and document all contacts, messages, injuries, or incidents, whether they violate the DVPO or not.
  • Give copies of your DVPO to police departments in communities where you live, work, or visit family and friends. 
  • Screen calls & visitors at work. 
  • Write down any evidence & names of witnesses.
  • Your phone or device may be able to be tracked or monitored by your abuser. If you’re able, get a new phone with a new number on its own calling plan. Or get a temporary burner phone to use until you can make sure your old one is safe from monitoring. 
  • If you’re ever forced to meet your partner–for example to sign papers or exchange property–do it in a public place with a friend you trust.

Your Digital Safety

People working together at a desk

If you think your activities are being monitored, they probably are.

Abusers tend to be controlling; They want to know your every move. Importantly, they don’t need to be a computer programmer or have special skills to monitor your computer and Internet activities – anyone can do it. In fact,  there are many ways abusers could be monitoring you using Spyware, keystroke loggers, hacking tools, and more.

Note also that when you’re being monitored, it could be dangerous to suddenly change your computer behaviors such as deleting your browser history (if that is not your regular habit), so be careful not to arouse suspicion and put yourself in a dangerous situation.

You may want to keep using the monitored computer for normal activities, such as checking the weather, or browsing recipes. Use a safer computer when possible–one that your abuser does not have direct or indirect (remote) access to–to find your local domestic violence shelter, research an escape plan, look for new jobs, find a new place to live, check prices of bus tickets, and so on.

Here are other security tips that can help keep you safe. 

  • Computers can store a lot of private information about what websites you visit, the emails and instant messages you send, internet-based phone and IP-TTY calls you make, web-based purchases, medical information, banking, and many other activities. When you leave, take or at the least log out of all your devices.
  • It is not possible to delete or clear all the “footprints” of your computer or online activities, but you can use safer practices. 
  • If you share a phone plan with your abuser, they may be able to track your location. If you feel it’s safe to do so, a separate phone may allow you some freedom to make plans and research ways to leave safely. Your local domestic violence program, may also information about free cell phone donation programs, or they may be able to provide assistance with making certain your phone is safe to use.
  • When you’re accessing information you wish to keep private from your abuser, use a public computer, such as one in a public library, at a community technology center (CTC), at a trusted friend’s house, or at an internet café–something your abuser doesn’t have access to. 
  • If it isn’t possible for you to use a different computer or device, use your browser’s “incognito” or “private browsing” mode. This can help you escape some low-level tracking techniques.
  • To further increase your safety, use a VPN, or “virtual private network” service. This adds another layer to your digital safety, by cloaking your IP and ISP. 
  • Email and Instant/Text Messaging (IM) are some of the least confidential ways to talk to someone about the  abuse in your life. Please call a hotline instead. You can use a secure messaging app such as Signal, which can help keep your messages from being intercepted–but when your abuser has access to your phone, the abuser may be able to see the app on your phone. Just the app could arouse suspicions.