Guest Author - Kelli Deister
When I made the decision to take my children and leave our abuser, I really had no idea on how to go about it. I didnít even know that there was such a thing as a safety plan. However, once I initially called the police to report an abusive incident, they gave me a small yellow card with various numbers on it for me to call for resources and help. Because of that little yellow card, I was able to get in touch with a local agency that helped me through the process. One of the things that they informed me about was a safety plan.
A safety plan can be created and used in various situations. For example, if you and your children are currently being abused, but you feel as though you are ready to leave your abuser and flee to safety, then you would need to create a safety plan for all of you. Another example would be if you have already left your abuser, but you continue to be stalked or contacted by the abusive parent, even with a protective order. You would also need a current safety plan during this time. A safety plan is simply a plan to either get to safety or to remain safe. This article will touch on areas of concern while creating your safety plan. Victims of domestic violence, of any age, are in more danger when they have left their abuser, than at any other time. This is why it is imperative that you plan ahead in every aspect of your safety plan.
First and foremost, please remember that when contemplating leaving your abuser, you do not want to alert them to the fact that you are planning to flee the abuse. This will put you in greater danger. It is also wise to not inform your children until the moment you intend to leave the abuser. This way the children do not inadvertently tell your abuser of your plans. You also want to make sure that what you tell your child is age appropriate. Try to remain calm as you prepare to leave. You want to make sure that your children are not only physically safe, but also emotionally safe. Make sure you have a safe place to go to if you decide to leave your abuser. Perhaps you can stay with a friend or family member or go to a local abuse shelter.
Tell someone that you trust, about your plans. They can be a friend or family member. Once you have notified them, pack a bag with all of your important items and store it at their house. This way, when you do leave you will have access to those items when needed and it will be in a safe place. In that bag, pack social security cards, marriage licenses, court orders, birth certificates, extra sets of keys, emergency cash, extra clothes etc. You may want to talk to your doctor about getting prescriptions filled for one month in advance so that you will always have a readily available supply. Do not tell your abuser what you are doing. It is also best not to tell the children about this bag you have packed.
Next, pick a special word that your children can use to alert you or the neighbors that they are in danger from their abuser. Pick a word that only you, your children, and your trusted friend or family member will know, so that your abuser doesnít know what they are doing when using that word. It has to be something with significance so that the children can remember. Make sure the children understand that the only people allowed to pick them up from school are those that know the special word. Teach them that if you are not home and they are being abused that they can call you or your trusted friend or family member and say the special word and someone will come help them.
Plan a safety route with your children if violence begins in your home. Pick a safe spot, away from anything that can potentially be used to harm you or the children. Donít go into any rooms that donít have doors or windows. Also, do not go into the kitchen where knives are stored. Instead, pick a room to meet where you can all get out safely. Teach your children how to call 911 so that if you are being abused, they can call for help.
Another part of your safety plan is to alert the authorities in the childrenís school of your situation and who has your permission to pick up the children from school. Inform them of any special words that you have established with your children, and if at all possible, a picture of your abuser.
The most important thing, when deciding to leave your abuser, is to create a safety plan ahead of time. This way, it is ready when you are.