You do not have control over your partner’s behavior, but you do have a choice about how to respond. It is very difficult to decide to leave a relationship and seek safety either with someone you know or in a domestic violence shelter. It might take several attempts before you can permanently leave. And once you decide that leaving is in your best interest, you still need to cope with the emotional, physical, and financial issues that arise. We strongly recommend that you make a safety plan. Your plan addresses you and your family’s individual situation and helps to ensure that if you decide to leave you are as safe as you can be and have everything that you need.
Part of being safe is understanding your situation. It is important that you know that the pattern of abuse often begins with behaviors like name-calling and threats and can escalate to physical violence and sexual assault, or even murder. If you are afraid of your partner, you need to trust your instincts about your safety and your children’s safety. You are not alone. We are here to help you.
The following guide can help you make a safety plan. Remember, that if you write out your plan, you need to keep it in a place where your partner won’t find it. We suggest that you work on a plan with an experienced domestic violence or sexual assault advocates. You can do this by calling the hotline, visiting one of our outreach offices in; Blue Earth, Mankato, Gaylord, St. James, and Waseca.
Communicate with someone who can help and decide where you and your children would go if you needed to leave. This may be difficult especially if your partner has isolated you; however, it is important to confide in someone who can help you:
· A trusted friend or family member who can listen without judging and keeps your confidentiality.
· An advocate can help you figure out which friends and relatives can help you.
· An advocate can help you figure out alternatives if you have to leave at a time when no one you know is available to help you.
· If you do not have a car, think of a safe place close to your home where your friend could pick you and your children up. Also, know the routes to the bus stops, and numbers for any public transportation.
· You may want to plan a code word or phrases to use on the telephone with a friend if you need to access help when your abuser is present. Tell your friend that when you say that code word, it means you are in trouble and you need him/her to call 911 for you.
· If you feel comfortable, tell your neighbors about the violence and ask if they will call 911 if suspicious noises are coming from your home.
· If you have an Order for Protection, keep it on you at all times and keep a copy of it somewhere else.
Decide how you and your children would get out of your home:
Decide on a pathway if you have to leave at night. Think of public places you can access 24 hours a day. Know the route to police stations, hospitals, fire stations, and 24-hour convenience stores in your area.
If you leave by car, make sure you lock your doors immediately.
Consider making a plan for each room in your home. What can you do to get out of the basement or upper floors of your home?
Know which doors lock in your home.
If you live in an apartment building, think of all the ways to get out safely. Is there a fire escape that could get you safely to the ground? Is there a stairwell you could use?
Keep your essential belongings (credit cards/ID) and keys in a safe place, in case you have to leave quickly.
If you are afraid that your partner will harass you at work, make an escape route at work. Also, give a photo of hem/her to a supervisor you trust and ask that s/he not be allowed inside. If you have an Order for Protection, give the security guard or receptionist a copy.
How to keep your children safe
Make sure your children know how to dial 911 in an emergency situation.
Instruct your children on where to go in an emergency.
Important documents to bring
Order for Protection
Public Assistance ID
Mobile phone/coins to use in a payphone
Driver’s license & registration
Social security card
Your partner’s social security number
Important legal documents
Record of violence
Baby’s things (diapers, formula, medication)
Children’s school and immunization records
Non-perishable snacks for children (e.g. juice and crackers)
Know the telephone number of the domestic violence hotline.
Crisis Line 1-800-477-0466
Prepare for the future
Keep a journal of all violent incidents, noting dates, events and threats made if possible. Advance your career4 and ability to work by completing school, taking courses, or learning a new skill. Try to set money aside or ask friends or family members to hold money for you.