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Do you know a woman who is being abused? A legal rights handbook

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What is a good safety plan?

A good safety plan lays out, step-by-step, how to leave your home in the safest way possible. It also helps keep you safe before you leave.

Stay safe before you leave

Before you leave, you should:

  • tell people you trust about the abuse
  • ask neighbours or friends to call the police if they hear fighting or loud noises, or if they see anything suspicious
  • call a counselling agency, crisis helpline, or women's shelter to talk about what is happening, and to learn how to create a safety plan when you leave
  • memorize the telephone number of a local shelter
  • be prepared to call 911 or the police if you or your children are in danger

Create a safe escape plan

Think about a place you can go where you will be safe, or where your partner will not know to look for you, such as:

  • a friend's or relative's place
  • a shelter or hostel
  • another town or city (but if you and your partner have children, you should not go very far, or he could claim that you abducted the children)

Before you go, try to:

  • put some money away in a safe place, a little at a time
  • store important documents, or copies of important documents, somewhere safe (for example, photo identification, your passport, children's birth certificates, health cards, and banking information)
  • keep a diary and write down the abusive incidents, if you can do this safely
  • keep your diary somewhere your abuser and children won't find it
  • get legal advice about your situation

Safety plan resources

Some staff at social services agencies, such as transitional support and housing workers, are trained to help women make safety plans. They can help you assess the risks and create a safety plan to protect you and your children.

For a sample plan, see the CLEO resource My Safety Plan.

The Peel Committee Against Woman Abuse also has an excellent safety planning guide. You can find it at www.pcawa.net.

Part 10 of this resource lists legal and community resources for women who have been abused.