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Create a Safety Plan

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Planning ahead for safety can make a difference.

Someone experiencing domestic violence may choose to leave the relationship or stay in the relationship for a variety of reasons. 

If you are experiencing abuse in your relationship or have left a relationship that was abusive, your safety is important.

In an Emergency Crisis

  1. Stay away from the kitchen, garage, and bathroom or places where the person who is abusive can find weapons.
  2. Get to a room with a door or window to escape. Try to have access to a telephone.
  3. Stay away from small spaces (such as closets) where the person who is abusive can trap you.
  4. Think of a friend or neighbor you can run to for help.
  5. Call 911.
  6. If a police officer comes, tell them what happened; get the officer’s name and badge number.

Emergency Escape Plan

  1. Plan where to go for safety – friend, relative, hotel, safe house. Practice how to get there when you’re not under stress.
  2. Plan an escape route out of your home; teach it to your children.
  3. Gather items of real or sentimental value over time and keep them in a safe place, or begin placing them within 1 or 2 rooms of the house so they can be packed quickly.
  4. Keep in a safe place or with someone you trust:
    • A spare set of house and car keys
    • Clothing for yourself and your children
    • Important papers
    • Money for cab fare, gas, or hotels
    • Phone numbers for relatives, doctors, and shelters
  5. Find excuses to go out that won’t make the person who is abusive suspicious: going to the laundromat/post office, walking the dog, taking out the garbage. Use one of these as a cover to escape.
  6. Get a cell phone that you can keep with you at all times.
  7. Talk with agencies to find out what help will be available once you leave, including counselors, safe houses, legal aid, public assistance, and public housing.
  8. Learn as much as you can about domestic violence.
  9. Withdraw half the money in your checking/savings accounts. Have your name removed from credit cards or other accounts you have in common so that the person who is abusive cannot ruin your credit.
  10. If you make phone calls, delete the dialed numbers from your cell phone or call a different number from your land phone so the person who is abusive cannot hit “redial” to find out whom you’ve called.

How to Get the Best Response from the Police

  1. Be as calm as possible.
  2. Tell the police officer to make a report.
  3. Tell the police officer about the assault in detail.
  4. Show the police officer any injuries, bruises, or damaged property.
  5. Let the police officer know if anyone saw the attack.
  6. Let the police officer know if the person has hit you before.
  7. If you have a Protection from Abuse order, show it to the officer.
  8. Ask the police officer for phone numbers of safe houses, hotlines, prosecutors, and counselors.
  9. Ask the police officer for his/her name and the case number of the report.

Safety with a PFA Order

  1. Keep your PFA and emergency numbers with you at all times. If you change purses or wallets, remember to put your PFA in your new purse or wallet.
  2. Give your employer a copy of your PFA and keep a copy at work.
  3. Give a copy of your PFA to the police department in communities where you work or often visit.
  4. If your PFA is lost or destroyed, get a new copy from the Prothonotary’s Office in the courthouse.
  5. If you have questions or concerns about your PFA, call the Legal Advocacy Office in your county. After 4:00 p.m. or on weekends, call the hotline number in your county. You can find these numbers at the top of the page.
  6. If the person who is abusive violates the PFA, call the police.
  7. If the person who is abusive violates the PFA and the police do not help you, call the Legal Advocacy Office in your county. After 4:00 p.m. or on weekends, call the hotline number in your county. You can still file charges without assistance from the police.
  8. If you would like an advocate with you at a PFA violation hearing, let the Legal Advocate or Safe House staff know.

Protecting Yourself at Home

  1. If the person who is abusive has moved out, change the locks on your door; get locks on the windows.
  2. Keep a phone in a room that you can lock from the inside.
  3. Ask your neighbors to call the police if they see the person who is abusive at your house; make a signal for them to call the police. For example, if the phone rings twice, a shade is pulled down, or the porch light flickers on and off. Establish a “code word” that means you need help.
  4. Get an unlisted phone number or a cell phone.
  5. Block outgoing caller ID.
  6. Use an answering machine; screen your calls. Save any threatening messages.
  7. Learn where you can go for help; have access to (or memorize) emergency phone numbers.
  8. Have a bag packed with important things you would need if you have to leave quickly. Keep the bag hidden and accessible in a hurry.
  9. Teach your children to call the police or go to a neighbor if you cannot escape.
  10. Invest in a security system, extra locks, window bars, or motion detecting flood lights.

Protecting Yourself Outside of the Home

  1. Change your regular travel habits.
  2. Shop and bank in different places.
  3. Open a new checking/savings account with a different bank than you used while with the person who is abusive.
  4. Don’t go out alone.
  5. Inform your employer of your situation and give them a picture or description of the person who is abusive so that they know what they look like.
  6. If you have to meet the person who is abusive, do so in a public place.

How to Make Your Children Safer

  1. Teach them not to get in the middle of a fight, even if they want to help.
  2. Teach them where to go for safety.
  3. Teach them who to call for help, including 911. Have them give your address and telephone number to the police.
  4. If you have primary custody of your child(ren), give the school and/or daycare center a copy of your court order. Tell them not to release the children to anyone without talking to you first; use a password so they can be sure it is you on the phone; give them a photo of the person who is abusive.
  5. Make sure the children know who to tell at school if they see the person who is abusive.
  6. Make sure the school knows not to give your address or phone number to anyone.

Items to Take When Leaving

  1. Social security cards for yourself and your children
  2. Birth certificates for yourself and your children
  3. Driver’s license or other form of photo identification
  4. Personal address/telephone book
  5. Clothes for yourself and your children for several days
  6. Your car, including your owner’s card and extra sets of car keys that may be in the house
  7. A set of house keys
  8. Your checkbook and savings book
  9. Rent receipts for the last two months
  10. All accessible cash
  11. Children’s immunization records
  12. All necessary medications/prescriptions for yourself and children
  13. Extra pair of glasses or contact lenses
  14. Credit cards
  15. Insurance cards

Learn how to stay safe when using technology.

Our use of technology today can help connect us with loved ones, but it also creates opportunities for someone to track locations, call and text logs, and web browsing. 

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