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A safety plan is a personalized plan that includes practical information about staying safe, physically and emotionally. A useful safety plan includes all of the important information needed to help you take control of an unsafe situation and move forward after experiencing a crime. When creating a safety plan, it is helpful to:
- Think through any and all resources you have available to you (such as family members, friends, private savings accounts, access to transportation, child care)
- Decide what your personal short- and long-term goals are (Do I want to find a way to stay where I am? Am I ready to leave my situation? How will I support myself if my situation changes?)
- Brainstorm some “what ifs” and come up with a back-up plan when it is possible
What can I do?
Though safety plans are personalized to you and your situation, basic safety steps that apply to most victims include:
- Seek Trusted Help – Let trusted family, friends, teachers, or neighbors know of your situation and ask them to help you stay safe. Have a signal or a code word that you can use to let them know if you are in trouble.
- Keep Important Items Handy – Make sure you have easy access to money, medications, phone numbers, and important documents if you have to leave in a hurry. You may want to have a bag hidden or left with a friend with important items for you and your children.
- Know Where to Go – Think about safe places where you can go if you have to leave suddenly; consider friends, trusted family members, or a local shelter. Try practicing how to leave safely so you will be prepared if the time comes.
- Alter Your Routine – Regularly change the routes you take to work or school so your routine is not predictable.
- Protect Your Home – Consider changing the locks on your doors, getting a new phone number, putting your lights on a timer, and keeping your windows shut when you are not home.
- Protect Your Technology
- Learn About Your Legal Options – Find out about your legal options such as protective orders/restraining orders against an abuser, alternative child custody arrangements, and civil remedies.
- Remember to Care for Yourself – Try to be kind to yourself and allow yourself time and patience as you move forward; everyone responds differently to crime. Practice Self Care and healthy coping skills.
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Technology Safety & Privacy: A Toolkit for Survivors from the National Network to End Domestic Violence contains safety tips, information, and privacy strategies for survivors when using technology.
Stay Safe Online has detailed information about safer internet use.
Path to Safety offers victims of domestic violence resources for safety planning, including situations where there are pets or children involved. It also includes suggestions and information for those fleeing violence, considerations before, during, and after leaving an unsafe situation.
This Interactive Safety Planning Guide is geared towards high school or college victims of abuse or violence. While designed specifically for victims of dating abuse, victims of other forms of violence and abuse may find it helpful.
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Contact the DC Victim Hotline by phone at 1-844-443-5732 or by chat for more information or assistance in locating services that can help you or a loved one with safety planning.