Create a Safety Plan

If you are in an abusive and/or violent relationship, an important first step you should take is to create a Safety Plan.

A safety plan will put your safety back in your hands and prepare you for the possibility of further violence. As a victim, you may not have control over what an abuser does, but you do have a choice about how to respond and how to get yourself and your loved ones to immediate safety. 

Steps to Creating a Safety Plan:

  • Keep a list of important telephone numbers in a safe place. Give your children a copy of the list.
    • Police
    • House of Ruth hotline (1-877-988-5559)
    • People you trust (ex. family, a neighbor, a co-worker)
    • Your doctor
  • Decide on a code word. (Ex. pineapple). Share this word with your children and people you trust. If you use it when talking to them or near them, they will know you need help immediately.
  • Confide in a trusted friend, relative, or neighbor. Ask them to keep an eye out for you. If they see or hear anything suspicious, request that they call the police right away.
  • Provide caregivers and schools a list of the people who are authorized to pick your children up. If there is an Order of Protection, make sure they have a copy on file.
  • If you are in a confined space with someone abusive, move away from rooms with dangerous objects (ex. kitchens) and/or limited exits (ex. basements)
  • Tell your work supervisor about your situation. Ask them to call the police if the abuser shows up to your job.
  • Prepare a “readiness kit” if you believe there will come a day when you need to escape quickly. Gather items in a backpack and store them in a safe place such as at work, or at the house of a trusted friend. Items to include:
    • All forms of ID: driver’s license, birth certificates, social security cards, medical cards/records, passport.
    • A list of important numbers.
    • Order of protection (if you have one).
    • An extra set of clothes for you and your children.
    • Family photos or items of sentimental value.
    • An extra set of keys.
    • Money.
    • Bank and/or credit cards.
    • Telephone card.
    • Medications.
    • Children’s favorite toy, blanket, or books.

Other important things to know

You can take anything that belongs to you alone (ex. your clothes) and anything that belongs to you and your spouse together (ex. a car). You can withdraw money you have in a joint bank account with your spouse/partner.

But you should not take anything that only belongs to your spouse (ex. his watch), and you may not destroy property that belongs only to him or to both of you.

If you do not take these things with you when you leave, you can ask the police to escort you back to your house at a later time and wait while you get your things. The police will wait only a few minutes and will only let you take things that obviously belong to you or your children, such as clothing.

Or you can wait until your spouse/partner goes to work and then go into the house and get what you need. However, if you do go back and your spouse/partner is there and won’t let you in, the police probably cannot force them to let you in without a court order.


Note: Our intention is to provide the above information as a guide to understanding domestic violence in context. Because every situation is different, and the spectrum of domestic violence is broad, not all of these examples or theories apply to everyone.