Let me ask you something…
Has your partner ever paralyzed you with fear?
Made you feel scared and unsafe?
Threatened to harm you or hurt you?
If YES, it’s crucial that you create a safety plan whether you leave or decide to stay in an abusive relationship.
What is a safety plan?
It’s a personalized strategy, a list, a plan of action, for you to take to remove yourself from potentially harmful or dangerous situations.
Right after my attacker went to federal prison, I began domestic violence counseling and attended counseling sessions for seven months.
One of the most valuable pieces of my healing during counseling was creating my safety plan. I remember writing it with my counselor.
As we wrote it out, I thought, this is absolutely insane that I was put into this situation to even be writing such a thing. However, it helped me to feel safe.
Here’s my safety plan:
- I have changed my locks and my doormen have been informed by myself and the police department regarding the arrest of my attacker. I have changed my phone number.
- I lock my door when I am home in my apartment.
- If I see him following me, I will make sure to stay in a public area (store, etc.) and call 911. I will keep a copy of my five-year order of protection on me.
- If I ever feel in danger in my own home, I will go into my bathroom and lock the door. I can also climb out the fire escape, if necessary.
- If he is acting in a dalutional manner (such as saying we will be together forever or that I still want to be with him) and I am not in a public area/ feeling unsafe, I will not say anything that would antagonize him and I will try to keep my calm.
- I know that U can always (24/7) call the NY Domestic Violence Hotline at 1800-621-HOPE (4673) for emergency services, counseling or shelter.
- If I need a place to go, I can go to a friend and family member’s house.
- My domestic violence counselor will help me to find out more about my legal rights and representation if I had to go to trial.
- I will continue seeing my counselor weekly.
- If I am feeling down or upset, I can exercise, spend time with my family and friends, pray and write.
- Lastly, I’ll always remember these 3 really awesome things about me: I am honest, I have a big heart and am caring, and I am positive.
Six months after I wrote this and after my attack, I moved homes. I provided my doormen with my attacker’s photo and a brief summary of what had happened.
I felt SO SAFE in my new home.
Questions to ask yourself when you’re creating your safety plan
- Are you ready to break up?
- Are you living together?
- Can you change the locks?
- Will the abuser try and follow you or find you?
- What is a good safe route out of your apt/home?
- Do they have a key to your apt/home?
- Do you have a safe plan you can stay?
- Will they contact your family or friends to find out where you are?
- Do they have access to your phone computer?
- Do they know any of your passwords?
You should know that abuse is NOT your fault and that you deserve to feel safe at ALL times!