• If an argument seems unavoidable, try to have it in a room or area that has access to an exit and not in a bathroom, kitchen, or anywhere near weapons.
  • Practice how to get out of your home safely. Identify which doors, windows, elevator, or stairwell would be best.
  • Have a packed bag ready and keep it in an undisclosed but accessible place in order to leave quickly.
  • Identify an neighbor you can tell about the violence and ask that they call the police if they hear a disturbance coming from your home.
  • Devise a code word to use with your children, family, friends, and neighbors when you need the police.
  • Decide and plan for where you will go if you have to leave home (even if you don’t think you will need to).
  • Use your own instincts and judgement. If the situation is very dangerous, consider giving the abuser what he wants to calm him down. You have the right to protect yourself until you are out of danger.

Safety when preparing to leave

  • Open a savings account in your own name to start to establish or increase your independence. Think of other ways in which you can increase your independence.
  • Leave money, an extra set of keys, copies of important documents, and extra clothes with someone you trust so you can leave quickly.
  • Determine who would be able to let you stay with them or lend you some money.
  • Keep the shelter phone number close at hand and keep some change, a calling card or a cell phone on you at all times for emergency phone calls.
  • Review your safety plan as often as possible in order to plan the safest way to leave your batterer. REMEMBER – LEAVING YOUR BATTERER IS THE MOST DANGEROUS TIME.


  • Change the locks on your doors as soon as possible. Buy additional locks and safety devices to secure your windows.
  • Discuss a safety plan with your children for when you are not with them.
  • Inform your child’s school, daycare, etc., about who has permission to pick up your child.
  • Inform neighbors and landlord that your partner no longer lives with you and that they should call the police if they see him near your home.
  • Never call the abuser from your home. If he has caller ID, he may be able to locate your residence.

Safety with a protective order

  • Keep your protective order on you at all times. (When you change your purse, that should be the first thing that goes in it).
  • Call the police if your partner violates the protective order.
  • Think of alternative ways to keep safe if the police do not respond right away.
  • Inform family, friends, and neighbors that you have a protective order in effect.

Safety on the job and in public

  • Decide whom at work you will inform of your situation. This should include office or building security (provide a picture of your batterer if possible).
  • Arrange to have someone screen your telephone calls if possible.
  • Devise a safety plan for when you leave work. Have someone escort you to your car, bus, or train. Use a variety of routes to go home by if possible. Think about what you would do if something happened while going home (i.e., in your car, on the bus, etc.).

Your safety and emotional health

  • If you are thinking of returning to a potentially abusive situation, discuss an alternative plan with someone you trust.
  • If you have to communicate with your partner, determine the safest way to do so.
  • Have positive thoughts about self and be assertive with others about your needs.

Checklist – what to take when you leave

  • Identification
  • Driver’s license
  • Child’s birth certificate
  • Your birth certificate
  • Money
  • Lease, rental agreement, house deed
  • Bank Books
  • Checkbooks
  • Insurance papers
  • House and car keys
  • Medications
  • Small sellable objects
  • Pictures
  • Medical records (all family members)
  • Address Book
  • Social security card
  • Welfare identification
  • School records
  • Work permits
  • Green card
  • Passport
  • Divorce papers
  • Jewelry
  • Child’s small toys