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Domestic Violence - Developing a Safety Plan

A violent relationship puts you and your children at risk for injury and even death. Developing a plan will help provide for your safety and the safety of your children.

Your first step is to contact a local advocacy group for support, information, and advice on how to stay safe. Call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (1-800-799-7233) or visit www.thehotline.org for the nearest program. The hotline is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, in English, Spanish, and other languages.

You can also see the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence website at www.ncadv.org/resources/StateCoalitionList.php to find the program nearest to you that offers shelter and legal support.

Safety plans for now and later

  • Stay safe if you are in a violent relationship.
    • When an argument occurs, go to a safe place.
    • Try to have a phone available at all times.
    • Create a code word or sign that can be used to alert family and friends that you need help.
  • Have a safety plan if you're preparing to leave a violent relationship.
    • Have a packed bag ready with copies of your car and house keys, money or credit cards, and important papers, such as Social Security cards and birth certificates for you and your children. Keep it hidden in your home, or leave the bag with friends or family or at work if possible.
    • Open a savings account or get a credit card, if you can do so in secret.
    • Use this checklist of items to take with you when you leave.
  • Learn how to stay safe after you leave a violent relationship.
    • Change your phone number.
    • Change your routine.
    • If your abuser comes to your home, you don't have to let him or her in. Keep the doors closed and locked, and call the police.

After you have left, you may need to take extra measures to stay safe. Your local advocacy group can help you get in touch with legal and social services in your area. This group may also provide information on counseling and support groups that can help you recover emotionally from your abuse.

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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: March 08, 2012
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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