It can really help to have an emergency plan for when things heat up, or if you need to leave an abusive relationship quickly, even for a short period of time.
Leaving the house or relationship can substantially increase the risk of increased aggressive behavior. Your partner may perceive your attempt to leave as a rejection of him/her, as an abandonment, or as a direct attack by you. Research shows that these feelings can greatly increase the likelihood of increased aggression against you.
Below is a domestic violence safety plan short list, then a link to a very comprehensive plan. There is also a practical checklist to help get you thinking about what you need for your circumstances.
Safety Plan short list
- Plan your Landing Zone
- Go Bag
- Stash Bag
- Practice de-escalating statements
- Ask for help after you leave
Your Landing Zone is the safe place you will go to. Know where that place will be before you leave.
A Go Bag has the stuff you really need and is always available. You will probably want to have I.D. and phone, and money if you have any. Below is a list of some other things you might keep in your Go Bag.
A Stash Bag is a larger bag with personal items that can last you a few days. You can leave this in your car or at a friends.
De-escalating statements are critical if you have to leave when your partner is still in the house or on your property. IT IS ESSENTIAL FOR YOUR SAFETY WHEN YOU LEAVE: DO NOT ANTAGONIZE YOUR PARTNER. To reduce the risk of increased aggressive responses, learn how to make de-escalating statements, practice them, and use them when you leave and for at least the first days after you leave. This is the most dangerous time for domestic violence victims.
Ask for help from a domestic violence agency, your family or friends (who understand), your church, doctor, a lawyer, local prosecutor’s office, police, homeless shelter, or any other professional person.
Timing and Exiting Considerations
Avoid rejection and de-escalate
- Practice non-rejecting statements (If you are attacked, responding with hostility while you attempt to leave may increase your risk of being harmed)
- Don’t say:
- “I hate you”
- “I’m sick of you being mean to me and the children. Never again!”
- “You are a ________! I’m leaving you!”
- Do say:
- Whatever you normally say to diffuse the anger (ask your lawyer or therapist if you don’t know how to diffuse anger effectively)
- Talk to professional or lawyer who understands how to de-escalate intense situations. What you might specifically say in your case may depend on several things.
- Tell your feelings and experiences to a professional
- Identify likely best times to leave, such as when he/she is not present
- Develop a believable reason to leave the house, and one which is the least likely to be perceived as rejecting/abandoning/threatening to your spouse
- Think about various ways to exit the house
- Let a neighbor or friend know about your concerns
- Have them pay attention to noise
- Ask them to call police if they are concerned
- Educate children about the issues and safety needs
- Note: Children are traumatized when they witness DV
- Teach them to
- dial 911
- contact a neighbor
- contact a teacher
- Identify with them under what circumstances they should call
Safety Plan Starter Checklist
(Please note: we are not giving you legal advice and this is not a complete plan. It is best that you speak with someone trained in DV cases to help you develop a plan that meets your specific needs. If you are not able to speak to someone, the list below will help you start thinking about how you can start working on your own individual plan.)
Landing Zone (Know where you will go)
- Family or friend
- Church member
- DV agency emergency shelter
- Credit/debit card
- Cell phone
- Cell phone charger/cable
- Extra glasses
- Snack bar
- Instant coffee
- Optional items, may be put in Stash Bag or car instead:
- Underwear (1-5 days, depending on plan)
- Outerwear (1-5 days, depending on plan)
- Work clothes
- Toiletries (minimum necessary.)
- Tissue paper
- Any of the go bag items, especially extra clothing
- This can allow for a smaller Go Bag
- Be mindful about including cash or personal information including a credit card, only include if Stash Bag holder is highly trusted
Store important paperwork if available, but if you are still living with coercive partner you may not want to put these items in your Stash Bag instead of Go Bag.
- Protection Order
- Parenting Plan
- List of important phone numbers (DV agency, attorney, Prosecutor’s office, refuge phone)
- Spare keys (house/car)
- Photocopy of driver’s license and other documents
- Spare credit card
For a complete Domestic Violence Safety Plan see: DV_Safety_plan.pdf
Local DV agencies in Clallam County:
- Healthy families, 1-360-452-3811
- Forks Abuse, 1-360-374-2273
- Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe (available for everyone, tribal member or not), 1-360-460-1745
- Dove House (Jefferson County, eastern Clallam County) 1-360-385-5291
- Learn about Protection Orders
- How to obtain them
- What you can ask for in them
- How to make them be effective
- Learn about what Domestic Violence (Intimate Partner Violence) and Power and Control are about
- Physical control
- Emotional control
- Sexual control
- Financial control
- Get legal information from DV agency, internet research, or lawyer