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Domestic Abuse: Safety Planning for Victims of Domestic Abuse
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Safety Planning for Victims of Domestic Abuse

Trying To End An Abusive Relationship?

If you are thinking about ending an abusive relationship, you should consider a safety plan. Before you take action, please call Family Shelter Service and Crisis Line at 630-469-5650.

Safety Planning—Some Options

Ending or escaping an abusive relationship can be difficult. The following steps can help protect you.

Numbers to Call for Help

  • List names and phone numbers of friends, relatives, battered women’s shelters, hospital, churches, etc., where you can go for help.
  • Hide the number to the battered women’s shelter in a safe place (freezer, plant, tampon box or with a neighbor).
  • Post phone number of battered women’s shelter under a fictitious name (first name only) so abuser doesn’t know you have it.
  • Post the police/sheriff department numbers close to the telephone.
  • Memorize all important phone numbers.

House and Car Keys

  • Keep all keys out of abuser’s sight.
  • Make extra keys and give to friends, neighbors, relatives or other people you can trust.
  • Tape or hide extra keys somewhere safe (desk drawer, out of house, if possible).
  • Try to obtain abuser’s set of keys to vehicle, especially if he does not use the car or it belongs to you.
  • Change the locks to your home if the abuser has a set of your home keys.

To Prevent the Abuser from Entering Your Home

  • Get double-keyed dead bolts for doors and locks for windows.
  • Change locks if abuser has a set of keys.
  • Reinforce/repair windows and doors.
  • Obtain an alarm and/or dog.
  • Move to a different residence.
  • Install a peephole in front and back doors.
  • Lock windows and doors at all times.
  • Keep keys out of abuser’s sight.
  • Install outdoor lights and motion lights.

Inform Neighbors, Friends and Relatives of the Abuse

  • Give friends, neighbors and/or relatives permission to call the police.
  • Set up signals to alert friends, neighbors and relatives that you’re in trouble, such as:
    • Flicking on/off the lights.
    • Using a password or sentence during a phone call to alert the other party of possible danger.
      • Opening or shutting a curtain in a certain window.
      • Screaming.
      • Knocking on the wall.
      • Don’t give information to people who trust the abuser.
      • Get the OK from friends, neighbors, etc. to seek their help in the middle of the night.
      • Teach your children how to call the police. If possible, develop a signal with them.


    • Install a telephone if you don’t have one.
    • Change your telephone number to an unlisted one.
    • Tape your telephone conversations. It is legal to tape calls from the abuser to document the abuse in case of legal action.
    • Keep all important/emergency telephone numbers near the phone.
    • Hide a cell/portable phone in your home to prevent the abuser from disconnecting it.


    • Open a personal account separate from the abuser.
    • Keep some money for emergencies.
    • Write a check for more than the amount when purchasing groceries or other items and put this money into your personal account or give to a trustworthy friend.
    • Borrow money from relatives, friends, banks, and hide it or put it into your personal account.
    • Hide money where it is easily accessible to you.
    • Put rings or other valuables in a safe deposit box at the bank, and hide the key so the abuser doesn’t find it and question what it is for.
    • Get travelers checks and keep them hidden.

    Personal Items

    • Pack personal items in case you must leave quickly (clothing, medication, baby needs, car seat, personal hygiene products, valuables, addresses and phone numbers, glasses, important papers, drivers license, paycheck stubs, etc.).
    • Hide items at homes of friends, neighbors, or relatives.
    • Hide items (under spare tire, wrapped in freezer paper in freezer, or rent a locker at the YMCA, airport, train station, etc.).

    Important Papers and Documents

    • Prepare important papers and documents in case you must leave quickly (birth certificates, marriage license, divorce decree, social security card, insurance policies, bank papers, bank mortgages, car title, pay check stubs and drivers license).
    • Keep important papers in a safe deposit box at a bank, when possible.
    • Have easy access to originals or copies of important documents.
    • Hide papers with a friend or relative or wrap and hide in freezer, plants, etc.
    • Always carry your order of protection with you.


    • Explain the effects of violence to children – even small ones – as they are affected, also.
    • Inform babysitters, school professionals, medical facilities, the parents of your child’s friends, etc. that the child should not leave with the abuser.
    • Develop a safety plan with your children to use when they are scared or when you give them the signal. Teach them where to hide, when to leave and how to call the police.

    Weapons in the House Belonging to the Abuser

    • Hide or throw away all ammunition.
    • Hide weapons or lock them in the car trunk to which the abuser doesn’t have a key.
    • Put knives in inaccessible places.
    • If law enforcement is called, ask them to take away the weapons.

    Hiding Places

    • Know your surroundings.
    • Know good places in your house to hide (preferably close to windows or doors for easy escape, if necessary).
    • Make an escape plan from each room. (If necessary, hide rope ladders in upper story rooms for escape).
    • Make a "safe" room in your house, which has a lock on the door, a phone and an escape route from the house, if needed.
    • Do not lock yourself into a small space such as a car (windows can be broken) or into a room with only one exit.
    • Know your physical capabilities. Can you outrun the abuser?
    • Know in advance where you will go if you need to leave the house.

    How to Protect Yourself When Being Attacked

    • Know the abuser’s clues (physical behaviors, circumstances) before an assault. Try to leave before assault, if possible.
    • Know ahead of time what you are capable of doing (gouging eyes, kick to knee or crotch, run, etc.).
    • Never pick up a weapon unless you are sure you will use it. (If you are afraid to use it, the abuser might take it and use it against you.)
    • Spray black pepper, salt, chili powder or hair spray in the eyes of the attacker.
    • Roll up in a ball and protect your head, if all else fails.
    • Find a self-defense class in your neighborhood. Check it out. If it feels safe and fulfills your needs, take the class.