Whether you decide to stay in your relationship or leave, the following are some of the many suggestions that a person may find in an individual safety plan. Bridges can help you to create a personalized safety plan that may work well for you.
Safety during a violent incident
You cannot always avoid incidents. In order to increase safety, you may use a variety of strategies:
- If I decide to leave, I will ____________________. (Practice how to get out safely. What doors, windows, elevators, stairwells, or fire escapes would you use?)
- I can keep my purse and keys ready and put them ____________________ (place) in order to leave quickly.
- I can tell ____________________ (person) about the violence and request they call the police if they hear suspicious noises coming from my home.
- I can teach my children how to use the telephone to contact the police and fire department.
- I will use ____________________ as my code word with my children or my friends so they can call for help.
- If I have to leave my home, I will go to ____________________. (Decide this even if you don't think there will be a next time.) If I cannot go to the location above, then I can go to ____________________ or ____________________.
- I can also teach some of these strategies to some/all of my children.
- When I expect we are going to have an argument, I will try to move to a space that is low risk, such as ____________________. (Try to avoid arguments in the bathroom, garage, kitchens, near windows, or in rooms without access to an outside door.)
- I will use my judgment and intuition. If the situation is very serious, I can give my partner what s/he wants to calm him/her down. I have to protect myself until I/we are out of danger.
Safety when preparing to leave
Battered women/men may frequently leave the residence they share with the battering partner. Leaving must be done with a careful plan in order to increase safety. Batterers often strike back when they believe that their partner is leaving a relationship. The following strategies may be helpful:
- I will leave money and an extra set of keys with ____________________ so I can leave quickly.
- I will keep copies of important documents or keys at ____________________.
- I will open a savings account by ____________________, to increase my independence.
- Other things I can do increase my independence include: ______________________________.
- Bridges 24-hour support line is 603-883-3044. I can speak to someone about what is going on. I can call collect.
- I can keep change for phone calls on me at all times. I understand that if I use my telephone credit card, my partner may gain access to the bill and see the telephone numbers that I called when I left. To keep my telephone communications confidential, I must either use coins or use a phone of a family member or friend.
- Bridges can give me an emergency cell phone that I can use to call the 24-hour support line or 911 in an emergency.
- I will check with ____________________ and ____________________ to see who would be able to let me stay with them or lend me some money.
- I can leave extra clothes with ____________________ in order to plan the safest way to leave the residence. A Bridges advocate or ____________________ (family member or friend) has agreed to help me review this plan.
- I will rehearse my escape plan, and as appropriate, practice it with my children.
When leaving a battering partner, it is important to take certain items with you. It might be best to gather the following items and keep them in one central location. If you have to leave the residence in a hurry, you can grab them quickly. (driver's license, car registration, house keys, car keys, office keys, cash, credit cards, checkbook, ATM card, birth certificate, passport, children's birth certificates, social security cards, school and vaccination records, medications, medical records for all family members, welfare identification, green cards, divorce papers, lease/rental agreement, house deed, mortgage payment book, bankbooks, insurance papers, address book, pictures, jewelry, children's favorite toys and/or blankets, items of special sentimental value)
Safety in my own residence
There are many things you can do to increase your safety in your own residence. It may be impossible to do everything at once, but safety measures can be added step by step.
- I can change the locks on my doors and windows as soon as possible.
- I can replace wooden doors with steel/metal doors.
- I can install security systems including additional locks, window bars, poles to wedge against doors, an electronic system, etc.
- I can purchase rope ladders to be used for escape from second floor windows.
- I can install smoke detectors and purchase fire extinguishers for each floor in my home.
- I can install an outside lighting system that lights up when a person is coming close to my home.
- I will teach my children how to use the telephone to make a collect call to me and to ____________________ (friend/family member/other) in the event that my partner takes the children.
I will tell people who take care of my children which people have permission to pick up my children and that my partner is not permitted to do so. The people I will inform about pickup permission include:
Day Care Staff: ____________________
Sunday School Teacher: ____________________
- I can inform ____________________ (neighbors) and ____________________ (friends) and ____________________ (Pastor) that my partner no longer resides with me and they should call the police is s/he is observed near my residence.
Safety with a protection order
Many people who batter obey protection orders, but one can never be sure which violent partner will obey and which will violate protection orders. You may need to ask the police and courts to enforce your protection order. The following are some steps that you may take to help the enforcement of your protection order.
- I will keep my protection order ____________________. (location) I will always keep it on or near my person.
- I will give copies of my protection order to police departments in the communities where I work, visit family and friends, and live.
- There is a state registry of protection orders that all police departments can call to confirm a protection order. I can check with the police department to make sure that my order is in the registry.
- For further safety, if I often visit other cities/towns/counties in New Hampshire, I might file my protection order with the court in those areas. I will register my protection order in the following localities: ____________________, ____________________, and ____________________.
- I can call Bridges if I am not sure about how to register my protection order, or if I have any problems or questions about my order.
- I will inform my employer, my closest friends, my family members, my minister, and ____________________ that I have a protection order in effect.
- If my partner destroys my protection order, I can get another copy from the courthouse where I received the original order.
- If my partner violates the protection order, I can call the police and report a violation, contact my attorney, call a Bridges advocate and/or advise the court of the violation.
- If the police do not help, I can contact a Bridges advocate or attorney and will file a complaint with the chief of the police department.
- I can also file a private criminal complaint with the district judge in the jurisdiction where the violation occurred or with the district attorney. I can charge my battering partner with a violation of the protection order and all the crimes that s/he commits in violating the order. I can call a Bridges advocate to help me with this.
Safety on the job and in public
Each person must decide if and when s/he will tell others that s/he has been battered and may continue to be at risk. Friends, family, and coworkers can help to protect a survivor. Individuals should consider carefully which people to invite to help secure their safety. You might do any or all of the following:
- I can inform my boss, the security supervisor, and ____________________ at work of my situation.
- I can ask ____________________ to help screen my telephone calls at work.
- When leaving work, I can ____________________.
- When driving home if problems occur, I can ____________________.
- If I use public transit, I can ____________________.
- I can use different grocery stores and shopping malls to conduct my business and shop at hours that are different from those when residing with my battering partner.
- I can use a different bank and take care of my banking at hours different from those I used when residing with my battering partner.
- I can also ____________________.