Safety Planning While Living with an Abusive Partner

woman contemplates safety planning while living with an abusive partnerLiving with an abusive partner can make it especially hard to identify or create opportunities to leave. Because you can’t leave as easily, safety planning while living with an abusive partner is even more important.

Here are some important steps for safety planning while living with an abusive partner: 

  • Identify your partner’s use and level of force so you can assess the risk of physical danger to yourself and others before it occurs.
  • Identify safe areas in your residence with pathways to exit, away from any weapons. If arguments occur, try to move to those areas before they escalate.
  • If safe, have a phone accessible at all times and know what numbers to call for help. This can include friends or family, The Hotline at 800.799.SAFE (7233), and your local shelter. Know where the nearest public phone is located.
  • Create several plausible reasons for leaving the house at different times of the day or night. Examples include needing multiple trips to the grocery store, spending time with friends, or staying at work longer. Find unnecessary errands to complete.  
  • If possible, practice how to get out safely, including with others who may be living in the residence.
  • Document the abusive behaviors of your partner to help you build a case and plan for what to do if your partner finds out.
  • If possible, keep weapons like guns and knives locked away and stored as inaccessibly as possible. If you are concerned about your safety, please reach out to an Advocate.
  • Be mindful of how clothing or jewelry could be used to physically harm you. For example, if your partner has put their hands around your neck, avoid wearing scarves or jewelry that can be used to harm you.
  • Back your car into your driveway when you park at home and keep it fueled. If possible, keep the driver’s door unlocked with the rest of the doors locked to allow for quick access to the vehicle.
  • If violence is unavoidable, make yourself as physically small as possible. Move to a corner and curl into a ball with your face protected and arms around each side of your head, fingers entwined.

How others can help with a safety plan:

  • Let trusted friends and neighbors know about your situation. Develop a plan and visual signal for when you might need their help. Give them clear instructions on who you do or do not want them to contact in moments of crisis, including law enforcement.
  • Talk to others living in the residence about how to get help, including children or roommates. Instruct them not to get involved in the violence between you and your partner. Work with them to establish a mutual signal for when they should get help or leave the house.

Help is available.

There are many reasons why someone is living with an abusive partner and can’t leave. If you have questions about safety planning while living with an abusive partner, our advocates are here 24/7 to help with in-depth safety planning for your specific situation.

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