A personal safety plan is a way of helping you to protect yourself and your children.
It helps you plan in advance for the possibility of future violence and abuse. It also helps you to think about how you can increase your safety either within the relationship, or if you decide to leave.
You can’t stop your partner’s violence and abuse – only he can do that. But there are things you can do to increase your own and your children’s safety. You’re probably already doing some things to protect yourself and your children – for example, there may be a pattern to the violence which may enable you to plan ahead to increase your safety.
- Plan in advance how you might respond in different situations, including crisis situations.
- Think about the different options that may be available to you.
- Keep with you any important and emergency telephone numbers (Essex Compass 0303 333 7444; the police domestic violence unit; your GP; your social worker, if you have one; your children’s school; your solicitor; and the Freephone 24 Hour National Domestic Violence Helpline run in partnership between Women’s Aid and Refuge: 0808 2000 247).
- Teach your children to call 999 in an emergency, and what they would need to say (for example, their full name, address and telephone number).
- Are there neighbours you could trust, and where you could go in an emergency? If so, tell them what is going on, and ask them to call the police if they hear sounds of a violent attack.
- Rehearse an escape plan, so in an emergency you and the children can get away safely.
- Pack an emergency bag for yourself and your children, and hide it somewhere safe (for example, at a neighbour’s or friend’s house). Try to avoid mutual friends or family. See the suggestions below on What to pack if you are planning to leave your partner.
- Try to keep a small amount of money on you at all times – including change for the phone and for bus fares.
- Know where the nearest phone is, and if you have a mobile phone, try to keep it with you.
- If you suspect that your partner is about to attack you, try to go to a lower risk area of the house – for example where there is a way out and access to a telephone. Avoid the kitchen or garage where there are likely to be knives or other weapons; and avoid rooms where you might be trapped, such as the bathroom, or where you might be shut into a cupboard or other small space.
- Be prepared to leave the house in an emergency.
If your ex-partner continues the abuse
If your ex-partner continues to harass, threaten or abuse you, make sure you keep detailed records of each incident, including the date and time it occurred, what was said or done, and, if possible, photographs of damage to your property or injuries to yourself or others.
If your partner or ex-partner injures you, see your GP or go to hospital for treatment and ask them to document your visit.
If you have an injunction with a power of arrest, or there is a restraining order in place, you should ask the police to enforce this; and if your ex-partner is in breach of any court order, you should also tell your solicitor.