Information for professionals - Domestic abuse

Safety Planning

Making a personal safety plan is a way of helping victims of domestic violence and abuse to protect themselves and their children. It helps them to think about how they can increase their safety either within a relationship, or if they decide to leave.

A victim can't stop their partner's violence and abuse - only they can do that. But there are things they can do to increase their own and their children's safety. They're probably already doing some things to protect themselves and their children - for example, there may be a pattern to the violence which may enable them to plan ahead to increase their safety.

Other things to consider include:

  • Planning in advance how they might respond in different situations, including crisis situations
  • Thinking about the different options that may be available to them
  • Keeping with them any important and emergency telephone numbers (for example, local domestic violence services, GP, social worker, children's school, solicitor, etc.)
  • Teaching their children to call 999 in an emergency and what they would need to say (for example, their full name, address and telephone number)
  • Considering if there are neighbours they could trust and where they could go in an emergency? If there is, they could tell them what is going on and ask them to call the police if they hear sound of a violent attack
  • Rehearsing an escape plan, so in an emergency they and their children can get away safely
  • Packing an emergency bag for themselves and their children and handing it somewhere safe (for example, at a neighbour's or a friend's house, but trying to avoid mutual friends or family)
  • Trying to keep a small amount of money on them at all times - including change for the phone and for bus fares
  • Knowing where the nearest phone is, and if they have a mobile phone, trying to keep it with them
  • If they suspect that their partner is about to attack them, trying to go to a lower risk area of the house - for example where there is a way out and access to a telephone. Avoiding the kitchen or garage where there are likely to be knives or other weapons and avoiding rooms where they might be trapped, such as the bathroom, or where they might be shut into a cupboard or other small space
  • Being prepared to leave the house in an emergency

Further advice on safety planning can be found in The Survivor's Handbook on the Women's Aid website.