Emotional Safety Planning

emotional abuse help

Emotional Safety Planning


by Diane, a Hotline advocate

A safety plan can help you stay safe while in an abusive relationship, while preparing to leave an abusive relationship, or after leaving an abusive relationship. Often, emphasis is placed on planning around physical safety, but it’s important to consider your emotional safety as well. Emotional safety can look different for different people, but ultimately it’s about developing a personalized plan that helps you feel accepting of your emotions and decisions when dealing with abuse. Below are some ideas for how to create and maintain an emotional safety plan that works for you.

Seek Out Supportive People
You deserve to feel safe while expressing yourself and your opinions, and having supportive people around you can help foster this space. A caring presence such as a trusted friend or family member can help create a calm atmosphere to think through difficult situations and allow for you to discuss potential options.

Identify and Work Towards Achievable Goals
Dealing with abusive situations can be very overwhelming and stressful, and taking one step at a time can be very helpful in overcoming larger tasks later. An achievable goal might be calling a local resource and seeing what services are available in your area, or talking to one of our advocates at The Hotline. Remember that you don’t have to do anything you aren’t comfortable with right now, but taking small steps can help options feel more possible when you are ready. Reading this page and looking for strategies to be emotionally safe is already an amazing step that you have taken!

Create a Peaceful Space for Yourself
Designating a physical place where your mind can relax and feel safe can be good option when working through difficult emotions that can arise when dealing with abuse. This can be a room in your house, a spot under your favorite tree, a comfy chair by a window or in a room with low lights. Whatever space works for you personally! Incorporating other elements such as calming music, plants, or tools to journal is an option to explore (just be sure that your abusive partner does not have access to personal journals). This is your safe space, so whatever brings you peace is a great choice.

Remind Yourself of Your Great Value
You are important and special, and recognizing and reminding yourself of this reality is so beneficial for your emotional health. It is never your fault when someone chooses to be abusive to you, and it has no reflection on the great value you have as person. You deserve to remind yourself of this! Writing messages to yourself about things you like about yourself or saying these things out loud every day can be good ways to start. Even if you don’t feel comfortable with this, just thinking “I matter and how I feel matters” is a great thing that you are doing for yourself. It is the truth, and you deserve to hear it.

Remember That You Deserve to Be Kind to Yourself
It is easy to fall into a pattern where we put extreme pressure on ourselves to make the right decisions right away. This isn’t always possible, and it’s completely okay to take whatever time you need to make whatever choices are right for you. You deserve support from other people, but you also have a right to be kind to yourself, and remember that you are going through a very difficult time. Taking time to practice self-care every day, even if it is only for a few minutes, really creates space for peace and emotional safety. It’s healthy to give yourself emotional breaks and step back from your situation sometimes. In the end, this can help you make the decisions that are best for you.

If you need to talk to someone about your situation, or if you need help creating a personal safety plan, our advocates are here for you. Call or chat with us 24/7/365. Call us at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) | 1-800-787-3224 (TTY) or chat by selecting the Chat Now button right here on our website. Chat en español 12-6 p.m. Hora Central.

Comment section

15 replies
  1. Hello Babette,

    Thank you for reaching out to us. We would be happy to talk with you and answer any questions that you may have. Please call us 24/7 at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or chat online at http://www.thehotline.org everyday, 7am-2am CST.

    Hotline Advocate RG

  2. I just left my husband of eight years with my three small children (5, 3 and 2). I put all of my energy into our physical safety and getting away from him (I am now renting an apartment) and had not really considered my emotional safety. I am an immigrant and have no family in this country. My husband was successful in isolating me so I don’t really have any friends. I have taken the steps to join a support group and am trying to find a therapist I “connect” with but am on a waiting list right now. I dropped the temporary restraining order as my husband has a license for his job, and without his income we would all suffer. He still harrasses me (calling and trying to talk when I drop off or collect the children) and is convinced I am the love of his life – or at least that is what he says. I have done a lot of reading and have recognized many of his gaslighting techniques. My main concern now is that me and my children are safe – emotionally. He has never been abusive towards them but now I am wondering if emotionally it is a good idea for them to stay with him (we have joint custody and they are with him three nights a week). They are still so small. He did such a throrough job of brainwashing me, what about them? At the same time they adore him and he is, in many ways, a good father.

  3. Hi Mel,

    Thank you so much for sharing your story. Leaving an abusive relationship is not easy, and continued emotional support and care is definitely very important. It sounds like your ex is using the joint-custody of your children as an excuse to keep contacting and abusing you (see our page on Children as an Abuse Mechanism, and that’s definitely not okay. It also sounds like you have concerns about the time your children spend with him, which is understandable. We do know that being around abusive people can have an impact on the wellbeing and development of children. I would encourage you to reach out to us at 1-800-799-7233. We would be happy to talk with you about some emotional safety planning options for you and your children.

  4. Hola… Esto es muy interesante he vivido x casi 6 años en una relación de profundo abuso psicológico y económica… M es muy difícil zafarme…he tratado infinidad d ocasiones.. Necesito mucho una,ayuda d tipi asesoría legal. Tengo mucho miedo dejarlo y q el m quiera quitar a la niña q tuve con el.

  5. Mi historia es muy larga y llena d episodios tristes x el daño emocional q hemos sufrido mis hijos y yo. NecesitRia ser muy extensa y de verdsdy necesitó q me orienten y saquen de dudas sobre muchos miedos q tengo y me mantienen atada a vivir con el.

  6. Hola Mary, lamento mucho escuchar la situación por la que estas pasando, nos gustaría mucho poder ayudarte. Puedes comunicarte con nosotros vía telefónica, estamos disponibles las 24 horas del día los 7 días de la semana.

  7. Hola Mary, lamento mucho escuchar la situación por la que estas pasando, nos gustaría mucho poder ayudarte. Puedes comunicarte con nosotros vía telefónica, estamos disponibles las 24 horas del día los 7 días de la semana.

  8. I am a 49 year old male who married my second wife in October . I have 2 children from my previous marriage. I love my wife, but she has to control everything. I can never do anything right. She complains that she feels unloved by me, a woman is not what I want, she is man and woman. Every other week she tells me to pack my things and get out. She dislike my kids and don’t want them at the house

  9. Hi Suffering in Silence,

    Thank you for reaching out. Having someone you love treat you with abuse is very painful. Abuse is often thought of as rooted in anger however it is really rooted in power and control issues. It occurs when one partner has power over another. For your wife to try to control everything and to treat you with disrespect is abusive. There is nothing that you could do to deserve to be treated with abuse. I want to let you know about another blog post we have about male survivors of abuse (Men Can be Victims of Abuse Too). If you would like to talk to an advocate about what you are experiencing, we are always reachable. You can call us 24/7 at 1-800-799-7233 and we have advocates on chat from 7am to 2am CST.

    Take care,

    Hotline Advocate LC

  10. Estoy en una relación abusiva por 7 años emocional y verbal , el siente q por haberme traído a éste país yo tengo que vivir arrodillada ante el, me dice q yo tengo q besar sus pies por haberme traído aquí q si estuviera en mi pais estaría de cama en cama con otros hombres mi hija tiene seis años y esto le afecta pero el dice q todo es mi culpa le dice cosas negativas a nuestra hija acerca de mi y ella esta copiando muchas de sus despectivas palabras tengo miedo de salir de esto porque económicamente dependo de el q puedo hacer ayúdenme gracias

  11. Diana G,

    Lo siento por todo que estás sufriendo. Tendría que ser muy difícil y estresante vivir así. Nunca mereces este tratamiento; mereces seguridad y respeto todo el tiempo. Si es possible, nos podrías llamar al 1-888-799-7233. Nuestros defensores son disponibles 7/24; ellos pueden hablar contigo para encontrar recursos cerca de ti que te podrían apoyar y pensar en estrategias y ideas para te ayudar.

    Muchas gracias por contar tu historia y por tu coraje. Esperamos tener noticias de tí pronto.

    Que te vaya bien,
    Hotline Advocate AC

  12. Thank you “operator 66” . My husband threatens to leave me about 4 times a year. This year he packed his bags and called me from work saying if I didn’t have a grocery list done by the time he came home he would leave me. I do see the pattern but he gets more angry and angry at each time and it seems believable at the time. Thank you I appreciate ste6 for listening to me while I’ve been so upset about all of this. You’re a gem God bless you and everybody else who works at the hotline.

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