Why Make a Safety Plan?TOP
It can be very difficult to leave a partner who is violent. Leaving is often the time when you and your children are most at risk of harm, and it can take multiple attempts to leave. When you are ready to leave it’s a good idea to have a safety plan in place. A safety plan will help you be as prepared as possible in an emergency when you have to leave at short notice.
This extends to the children. It is vitally important that children who live in homes where there is violence have a simple and easily understood plan so they know what to do when violence occurs or their safety is threatened.
Have the following in place – it can help keep you safe if you and your children need to leave in a hurry:
- Have an emergency bag packed and ready with essential items you will need if you have to leave a violent situation very quickly (including important documents – see section 1c. Checklist of documents you need to take with you when leaving a relationship). Hide it or give it to a trusted family member or friend to keep for you;
- Have your mobile phone on you and have emergency numbers in the phone in advance;
- Come up with a code word that tells a friend, family, or neighbours that you feel unsafe and need assistance;
- Know the best way to leave the house (through which door) if you and the children need to do so in a hurry. Make sure the house keys are close (to unlock doors);
- Keep the car keys in a reachable place and make sure the car has fuel;
- Ask neighbours to call the police (000) if they hear arguments, yelling or loud noises.
You can download an example of a safety plan here.
Safety Plans for ChildrenTOP
Have a chat to your children about your safety plan if they’re at an age where it’s appropriate. Talk to them about their own safety plan and let them decide what they can do to be safe, which room to go to and where to go to escape from the house if they need to.
Some suggestions to help keep your children safe are:
- Have a code word that lets your children know they need to leave now;
- Teach your children how to contact family, friends or neighbours where they will be safe;
- Teach your children how to call 000 for the police or ambulance. Tell them not to hang up. This helps the services to monitor what’s happening and find you if necessary;
- Spend some time teaching them what to say if they have to report a violence;
- Consider giving your children their own mobile phone so they can call for help if necessary.
You can download an example of a safety plan for children : here
Plans for PetsTOP
The safety of yourself and your children is your first priority, but you might also consider making plans for pets. You may wish to take them with you, but unfortunately most refuges will not allow pets.
You might be able to arrange to drop pets off with a trusted friend for a short period until you are able to take them back. Another option is the RSPCA pet fostering arrangement. More information on that can be found at the RSPCA website. Arranging this in advance will allow you to leave without hesitation when the time comes.
Further information in relation to safety planning can be found at the 1800 Respect website. Once you or your partner have moved out of the family home, you can apply for a Family Violence Restraining Order to help keep you safe – see section 2c. Family Violence Restraining Orders – What they are and how to get one.
[Article last updated: 11/11/21]