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Domestic Violence: Personal Safety Plan

The most important step you can take is to build a safety plan to protect yourself from the abuser. When abuse has occurred once in a relationship, it is likely to happen again. The following steps will help you make a plan.

1. Have important phone numbers available for you and your children.

For example:

  • Police: 911
  • Renton Police Domestic Violence Victim Advocate: (425) 430-6654
  • DAWN: (425) 656-7867
  • Y.W.C.A.: (425) 226-1266 ext. 1017
  • Friends and relatives

2. Think about some friends or neighbors you could tell about the violence and ask them to call the police if they hear suspicious noises coming from your home.

3. Think about places you can go if you leave your home.

4. Think about leaving extra money, car keys, clothes, and copies of important papers with a close friend, relative, or neighbor.

5. Think about keeping change for phone calls with you at all times, opening a savings account, rehearsing your escape route with a support person, and reviewing your safety plan periodically.

6. Your life and your safety are most important. Bringing your children with you is important. Everything else is secondary. However, think about taking the following items with you when you leave:

  • ___ identification
  • ___ birth certificates for you and your children
  • ___ social security cards
  • ___ school and medical records
  • ___ money, bankbooks, credit cards
  • ___ keys to the house, car and office
  • ___ driver's license and registration
  • ___ medications
  • ___ change of clothes
  • ___ welfare identification
  • ___ passport(s), green card(s), work permits
  • ___ divorce papers
  • ___ lease/rental agreements
  • ___ pets
  • ___ insurance papers
  • ___ address book
  • ___ pictures, jewelry, items of sentimental value
  • ___ children's favorite toys, blankets, etc.
  • ___ Protection Order

WARNING: Violence frequently gets worse when you try to leave or show signs of independence, such as taking a class or filing for divorce. Your partner may become desperate. Take special care.

After the relationship is over, you still need to take care.

7. Think about changing the locks, installing steel/metal doors, a security system, smoke detectors, and an outside lighting system.

8. Think about telling a couple of neighbors that your partner no longer lives with you and ask them to call the police if they are observed near your home or children.

9. Think about telling people who take care of your children the names of those who have permission to pick them up. If you have a personal Protection Order that names your children, give their caretakers and their schools a copy of the order.

10. Think about telling someone at work about your situation and ask that person to screen your calls.

11. Think about not using the same stores, banks, or other businesses that you used when you lived with your battering partner.

12. Think about getting a Protection Order from the court. Keep a copy with you at all times, give one to the police, to your children's caregivers, to your children's schools, and to your own supervisor at work.

13. Think about someone you can call if you feel down and are thinking about returning to your battering partner. Think about attending workshops and support groups to gain support and strengthen your relationships with other people.

For your safety's sake, ask yourself these questions:

  • Are there weapons in the house? Where? Can you remove the weapons? The ammunition? Lock them up? Take them to the police?
  • Can you figure out a signal for the neighbors to call the police? Can you teach your children to call the police? Or go to a neighbor's and call?
  • How will you get out of the house? Some women take out the garbage, walk the dog, get the newspaper or offer to go get him cigarettes. Set up a routine where it is normal for you to leave for a short time.

Many victims of domestic violence ask these questions about leaving:

  • Can I take my children with me when I leave? Yes. If you can do it safely, definitely take your children with you. It may be more difficult later. Get legal custody of them within a few days. This is very important. If you do not have your children with you, it may be difficult filing for temporary custody of your children. The parent who has physical possession of the children may have an advantage getting temporary custody. Your partner may try to kidnap, threaten, or harm the children in order to get you to return.
    If you are in immediate danger and cannot take your children, contact the police immediately to arrange for Temporary Protective Custody.
  • Where do I go? Stay with a friend or relatives. If you are a woman, do not stay with a man unless he is a relative. (Living with a man you are not married to could hurt your chances of getting custody of your children and spousal support. It could also cause conflict with your abuser.)

Call the DAWN 24-hour Crisis Line at (425) 656-7867 for help with housing options, legal and financial help, and counseling and emotional support for you and your children.

Email  the Domestic Violence Victim Advocate or call (425) 430-6654.