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There’s a Way Out: How to Safety Plan

By Cesiah Guerra

But one day–tired of her life, tired of the evil before her, she found the courage to break her silence. She stood facing her abuser, the one out to destroy her. And she shouted in loud voice, “No more silence, no more hurt!”

I can remember as if it was yesterday, the day I picked up a brochure on domestic violence. As I started reading the brochure, I couldn’t believe that what was happening to me was not normal and it was not acceptable.

I remember picking up the phone that afternoon and called the domestic violence hotline. As I spoke to the advocate on the phone, she made me feel like she was listening and cared. She was a survivor of domestic violence; she understood. It was a day I will never forget; as it was the day I came to the realization that I was a victim of domestic violence and that I was being abused.  

When I hung up with the advocate, I immediately went into action with a plan. How was I going to leave and what was I going to take with me? I followed the safety plan on the brochure and jumped into action.

The first thing I did was to make sure that I had all the documentation for my son and myself, like my driver’s license, social security cards, birth certificates, my son’s health documentation (vaccines and family doctor), and address book of friends and family. I made small bundles of clothes for my son and myself, which I hid in a corner of my closet.  I knew I couldn’t pack all my clothes because my abuser would get suspicious that I was up to something. I packed a little of everything. For my son, I also packed his favorite toys, the ones small enough to fit in my suitcase.

I then went to speak to my family. I let them know that I was leaving my house and my husband. I shared how scared I was and that it was important for me to leave to a shelter. I could have just moved in with my parents, but it was important for me to leave to a safe place where I could receive help with a restraining order and guidance.

Because I was creating my own safety plan, it was important for me to have the Domestic Violence Center help me, as I had no clue where to go and who could help me.

Perhaps, you are in a situation where you need to start a safety plan. Maybe, you are asking yourself where you can go and who can help you leave your abusive relationship.

So, how do you create a safety plan and what should you take?

A safety plan focuses on things you can do in advance to better prepare you to leave a violent relationship or situation.

The list below are items you can hide in a safe place, be it your friends, family, or in a safety deposit box. Make copies (if possible) and hide the originals.

The following are things you should take with you if possible:

Passports

  • Birth certificates
  • Citizenship papers
  • Driver’s license/insurance cards
  • Medicine/vaccination cards
  • School records, (if you have them)
  • Marriage certificate
  • All legal documents
  • Copies of rental agreement/house deed
  • Bank statements/account info.
  • Address book
  • Pictures of the family/spouse

If you are not ready to leave you can start by planning emergency exits in your house. Review the steps you will take if you have to leave quickly.

Before I left my abusive and violent relationship, I didn’t know about my local domestic violence center. I just so happened to go to the doctor’s office and picked up a brochure. Now, I want others to know how to find resources that will help them leave abusive relationships.

For example, some local libraries have brochures on domestic violence, your local DSHS office, and some emergency clinics. Most communities have a domestic violence center. You can search via the internet or go to domesticshelter.org. They have made it so easy to find local shelters in your area by simply entering your zip code or city on their search tab. It will give you a list of local resources where you can seek help.

Our very own Break the Silence has a helpline that allows people experiencing domestic violence to talk to a survivor. The BTS helpline is about giving support, validating and helping survivors in any way they can. They can help you in creating a safety plan. Call BTS Helpline at 1-855-287-1777.

Another resource is the National Domestic Violence Hotline. They are a great resource that helps in creating safety plans with the victim, their friends, and family members. Their website explains in detail how to create a safety plan while living with an abusive partner if there are children and pets involved, and if you’re pregnant, as well as tips for emotional safety planning. They can guide you in how to leave an abusive relationship, and what to expect when you leave and after you leave. They also share legal information and will guide you to Casa de Esperanza if you are not a U.S. Citizen. You can learn about your rights as an immigrant on their website.

You can involve a friend or family member in your safety plan. They can help you by creating a code word or sign that alerts them they should call the police. You can keep an extra set of car/house keys with them and keep important documents with them as well.

Remember, you are not alone. Perhaps, you don’t have a family or friend support, but there are wonderful resources, like BTS, that will not let you go through this alone.  

Resources:

Breakthesilencedv.org

1-855-287-1777

Thehotline.org

1-800-799-7233

Casadeesperanza.org

Please feel free to download the safety plan form.

Safety Plan Form

 

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