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If there is a risk that you could experience violence or abuse, having a safety plan is a way to increase your own and your children’s safety. You do not have control over the abuser’s violence, nor can you always avoid violent incidents; however you can increase your safety. Do safety planning even if you don’t think the violence will continue.

Emergency Escape Plan

The Emergency Escape Plan focuses on steps that women can take in advance to be better prepared in case they have to leave a situation very quickly.

Safety during a violent incident

I do not control when violent incidents occur. When incidents occur, if possible I will increase my safety and manage risk using a variety of different strategies. I can use some or all of the following strategies:

  •  If I decide to leave, I will _____________________________________________. (Practice how to get out safely. What doors, windows, elevators, stairwells or fire escapes would you use? Consider your physical stamina and abilities as well as the health status of anyone who may need to leave with you.)
  • I can keep my purse and car keys ready and put them _______________________________________ (place) in order to leave quickly.
  • I can tell ______________________________ about the violence and request that they call the police if they hear suspicious noises coming from my house.
  • I can teach my children how to use the telephone to contact the police in case of an emergency.
  • I will establish and use a code word with my children or my friends so they can call for help.
  • If I have to leave my home, I will go ___________________________. If I cannot go to the location above, then I can go to _______________________________ or _________________________________.
  • I can also teach some of these strategies to some/all of my children.
  • When my partner is escalating and I expect we are going to have an argument, I can try to move to a space that poses a lower risk, such as _________________________________________, or if possible, leave the house. (Try to avoid arguments in the bathroom, garage, and kitchen, near weapons or in rooms without access to an outside door.)
  • I can consider possible patterns or usual behaviours of my partner/ex-partner as to be better prepared for potential volatility (e.g., evening alcohol consumption, extended periods of unemployment, substance binges on pay day, not taking medications for mental health issues, etc.)
  • I can watch for signs that my partner/ex-partner may become violent including rapid breathing, colour change in the face, sweating, shaking, violent gestures, angry expressions, talking loudly, and making threats.

 Preparing to Leave

I can make a photocopy of the following items and store in a safe place, away from the originals.  I can hide the originals someplace else.

  • Passports, birth certificates, Indian/First Nations status cards, citizenship papers, immigration papers, permanent resident or citizenship cards, Social Insurance Number (SIN) card etc. for all family members
  • Driver’s license, registration, insurance papers
  • Prescriptions, medical and vaccination records for all family members
  • School records
  • Pay stubs, income assistance documentation, pension documentation, RRSPs, RIFF, tax returns
  • Wills, trust agreements, power of attorney
  • Insurance papers (health, disability, life, property)
  • Work permits
  • Marriage certificate, divorce papers, custody documentation, court orders, restraining orders, or other legal documents
  • Lease/rental agreement, house deed, mortgage documents
  • Bank books
  • Address/telephone book
  • Picture of spouse/partner and any children
  • Health cards for me and family members
  • All cards I normally use, for example, credit cards, bank cards, phone card
  • Documentation that proves cohabitation, (i.e. utility payments in both names, rent receipts)

I can try to keep all the cards I normally use or copies of them in my wallet:

  • Social Insurance Number (SIN) card
  • Credit cards
  • Phone card
  • Bank cards
  • Health cards

I can try to keep my wallet and purse handy and containing the following:

  • Keys for my home, car, workplace, safety deposit box
  • Cheque book, bank books/statements
  • Driver’s license, registration, insurance
  • Address/telephone book
  • Picture of spouse/partner and any children
  • Emergency money (in cash) hidden away
  • Cell phone
  • Documentation of cohabitation

Items to take when leaving

If I leave my abusive partner, it is important to take certain items with me. I may also give extra copies of documents and an extra set of clothing to a friend just in case I have to leave quickly. Items with an asterisk (*) on the following list are the most important to take. If there is time, the other items might be taken, or stored outside the home. These items might best be placed in one location, so that if I have to leave in a hurry, I can grab them quickly.

  • Birth certificates *
  • Passports *
  • Citizenship or immigration documents or Certificate of Indian Status *
  • Driver’s license and registration *
  • Keys – house/car/office *
  • Health Cards *
  • Medications and prescriptions *
  • Money *
  • Cheque book and bank books *
  • Debit and Credit Card *
  • Work permits *
  • Social Insurance Card (SIN Card) *
  • School and vaccination records *
  • Transit pass *
  • Assistive devices (i.e. glasses, dentures, walkers, canes, hearing aids) *
  • Court orders, restraining orders and custody documentation *
  •  Medical records
  • Insurance papers (car, home, health)
  • Address/telephone book
  • Children’s favourite toys and/or blanket
  • Divorce papers, marriage certificate
  • Valuable or sentimental items such as jewelry
  • Pictures of abuser and children/ grandchildren
  • Documentation of cohabitation
  • Lease/rental agreement, house deed, mortgage papers

 

Safety for my pet(s)

If I am able to prepare for my pet’s departure, I will try to have the following pet items in a safe place where my partner won’t be able to find them.

  • Pet’s vaccination and medical records
  • License that proves I own your animal
  • Bowls, bedding, toys, grooming supplies, a favourite blanket
  • Identification tag without your home address but with a phone number of a trusted friend or my veterinarian.
  • Dog leashes
  • Cat carriers
  • Medication (if any)
  • A photo and an information sheet on food and feeding schedules, medical conditions, medications and schedules, likes and dislikes, and any possible behaviour problems to give to a temporary caretaker

Before leaving, I will make sure:

  • I find a safe place ahead of time. I can ask friends and family that I trust who might be willing to take my pets temporarily. I can check out local safe havens for pets in my area.
  • I know my pets’ hiding spots so I don’t have to spend time looking for them in the case of emergency.

The pets’ location should be kept secret in case my partner decides to try to take control of the pet in order to take control of me and my children.

 

Technological Safety

Laptops and Computers

I can be aware that someone who has access to my computer may be able to see what websites I have visited, or read my email messages. ‘Spyware’ and ‘keylogging’ programs are commonly available and can track what I do on my computer without me knowing it. It is not possible to delete or clear all of the ‘tracks’ of online or computer activities. However, there are steps I can take to make it more difficult for someone to track my activities. Computers have what is called a cache file. The cache (pronounced “cash”) automatically saves web pages and graphics. Anyone who looks at the cache file on my computer can see what information I have viewed recently on the internet. Also, most web browsers (the software on a computer that lets you search the internet and display internet pages – like Internet Explorer and Mozilla Firefox) keep a list of the most recent web sites and links that have been visited in a history file.

I can look at my own history by clicking on the history button on the toolbar (the bar at the top of the screen). While it is possible to clear the cache and history files so that the computer doesn’t keep a list of the sites that have been visited, caution is needed. If an abuser is comfortable with computers and sees that the cache and history files on your computer (including the sites the abuser has visited), have been cleared, this could make the abuser suspicious or angry. If that is a possibility:

  •  I can use a safer computer that my partner cannot access – for example, at a library, school, internet café, a friend’s house, or at work.
  • I can create a new or additional email, Facebook or instant messaging account on a safer computer. I can use an anonymous name, and account: (example: bluecat@email.com – not YourRealName@email.com). I can look for free web-based email accounts (like gmail, yahoo or hotmail), and not provide detailed information about myself.
  • I can check mobile phone settings. I can turn off my phone when not in use. I can lock the phone so it won’t automatically answer or call if it is bumped.
  • I can change passwords and PIN numbers quickly and frequently on online banking, voicemail. I can use a safer computer to check all my accounts.
  • I can minimize use of cordless phones or baby monitors. If I don’t want others to overhear my conversations, I can turn baby monitors off when not in use and use a traditional corded phone for sensitive conversations.
  • I can get my own mobile phone, especially if I have a shared or family mobile phone. The mobile phone bill and the phone log might give information to my partner. I can consider using a prepaid phone card so that I won’t get numbers listed on my bill.

 

All Technology:

GPS technology may allow people to identify where I am. I can increase my safety by disabling GPS capabilities in:

  • Cell phones – I can disable “Find my Phone” app.
  • iPads/Tablets – I can disable the “Find my Device” app. Any iPad or tablet given to you by your partner or that your partner has access to billing information should be replaced.
  • Social Media – When accessing social media from someone’s computer, or even a library computer if that capability has not been turned off.
  • Children’s electronic toys
  • Car (low jacking)

 

Other Considerations:

  • I can open a bank account in my own name and arrange that no bank statements or other calls be made to me.
  • I can arrange that mail be sent to a trusted friend or family member.
  • I can save and set aside as much money as I can (e.g., a bit of change out of grocery-money if/when possible). I can locate the local food bank so I can save money on groceries.
  • I can set aside $20 to $30 for cab fare, and quarters for a pay phone, in a place I can get to quickly.
  • I can hide extra clothing, keys, money, etc. at a friend/family member’s house.
  • I can plan my emergency exits, taking into consideration mobility and accessibility concerns, as well as appropriate modes of transportation and how to arrange it (e.g., taxi, bus etc.).
  • I can plan and rehearse the steps I will take if I have to leave quickly.
  • I can keep an emergency packed suitcase hidden or handy/ready to pack quickly.
  • I can get a safety deposit box at a bank that my partner does not go to.

When Dialing 911:

There is no charge when dialing 911 from a pay phone. The call is also free from cell phones.

  • If I call from a landline, I can leave the phone off the hook after I have dialed 911 and the police will come to my location.
  • If I call from a cell phone, I can give my address immediately. On a cell phone, the police cannot tell where I am calling from.
  • I can shout out my address loudly to let the operator know where I am, if the phone is dropped or thrown.
  • For TTY access (telephone device for the deaf) I can press the spacebar announcer key repeatedly until a response is received.
  • If I do not speak English, I can tell the call-taker the name of the language I speak. I can stay on the line while I am connected to interpreter services that will provide assistance in my language.
  • I can try to remain on the line until the call-taker tells me it is okay to hang-up.

 

Additional Notes:

  • If I leave home, I will take the children if I can. The police cannot remove them from their other parent unless there is a valid court order.
  • If I have left home, the police can escort me back to the home later to remove additional personal belongings, if it is arranged through the local police department.