Important: It is a good idea to talk to a shelter staffer or other safety planning expert about additional safety planning to meet the needs of your particular, unique situation.

Step 1: Safety During a Violent Incident. 

Victims cannot always avoid violent incidents. In order to increase safety, victims should consider some or all of these strategies, and to remember this list in not exhaustive.

If I decide to leave, I will ______________________. (Practice how to get out safely; what doors, windows, elevators, stairwells or fire escapes will you use?)

I can keep my purse / wallet / identification, passports, car keys, emergency cash ready and put them in (place) ____________________________ in order to leave quickly.

I can tell (list two trusted friends/neighbors and their phone numbers: _________________________, __________________) about the violence and request they call the Police if they hear suspicious noises coming from my house or if they cannot locate me.

I can teach my children how to use the telephone to contact the Police and to provide quick and accurate information including directions to our home and neighborhood.

I will use ____________ as my code word with my children or my friends so they can go for help.

If I have to leave my home, I will go to ________________.

(Decide this even if you don't think there will be another violent incident.) If I cannot go to the above location, then I can go to _________________________.

I can also teach some of these strategies to my children.

When I expect my partner and I are going to have an argument, I will try to move to a space that is lowest risk, such as ___________.

(Remember to avoid the bathroom, kitchen, garage, rooms containing weapons and rooms without access to the outside.)

I will use my judgment and intuition. If the situation is very serious, I should consider doing what I know will calm my partner down. I must remember that I have to protect myself and the children until we are out of danger.

Step 2: Safety When Preparing To Leave. 

Victims frequently leave the residence they share with the abusive partner. Leaving must be done strategically in order to increase safety. Batterers often strike back when they believe that a battered partner is leaving the relationship. Victims can use some or all of these strategies:

I will leave money and an extra set of keys with ___________ so I can leave quickly.

I will keep copies of important documents at ______________.

I will open a savings account by (date) ____________ in order to increase my independence.

Other things I can do to increase my independence include: _________________________________________________________

The local Rape Crisis Centre telephone number is: The local Women's Shelter telephone number is: ____________________

The local Women and Children's Crisis Centre telephone number is:________________________________

To make emergency phone calls and to keep them private, I can keep change and Quick Change (an anonymous phone card) with me at all times. I understand that if I use my telephone credit card, the next month's bill will reveal the numbers I have called recently, including those made after I left. If I need a new telephone credit card immediately, I could borrow one from a friend for a limited time when I first leave. I will check with the phone service to make sure that the last number I have called cannot be accessed by my partner.

I will contact ________________ and ____________ for a temporary place to stay and for emergency financial assistance.

I can leave extra clothes with _____________________.

I will sit down and review my safety plan every _________ (week? 2 weeks? month?) in order to plan the safest way to leave the residence. My case worker or friend ________________ has agreed to help me review this plan.

I will rehearse my escape plan and, as appropriate, practice it with my children.

Step 3: Safety in My Own Residence.

There are many things that a victim can do to increase safety in their own residence. It may be impossible to do everything at once, but safety measures can be added step by step. Safely measures I can consider include:

Can I change the locks on my doors and windows as soon as possible? Can I replace wooden doors with steel/metal doors?

Can I install security systems including additional locks, window bars, poles to wedge against doors, an electronic system with "panic button", etc.?

Can I purchase rope ladders to be used for escape from second floor windows?

Can I install smoke and carbon monoxide detectors and purchase fire extinguishers for each floor in my house/apartment? 

Can I install an outside lighting system that lights up when a person is coming close to my home?

I will teach my children how to use the telephone to make a collect call to me and to (trusted friend/neighbor/relative) ____________ in the event that my partner abducts the children.

I will teach my children a code word that grants them permission to leave with a person other than myself only when that person uses that code word in direct communication with my children.

I will remember to give my code word to the person(s) I instruct to collect my children in an emergency or any other unusual situation AND I will change the code word with my children frequently.

I will tell people who take care of my children which people have permission to pick up my children and that my partner is not permitted to do so. The people I will inform about
pick-up permission include:

(school) ______________________

(day-care staff) ________________

(baby-sitter) _________________

(Sunday School teacher) __________________________

(teacher) _______________________

(coach/instructor) (others) ________________________

I can inform (neighbor) ________________________, (religious leader) __________________________, and (friend) __________________________ that my partner no longer resides with me and they should call the Police if he is observed near my residence.

Step 4: Safety with a Court Order
(peace bond {810, 810.2 Criminal Code}, release/bail conditions, recognizance with conditions, conditions of probation order) 

Some abusers obey court orders such as peace bonds, where they promise the court that they will abide by all terms and conditions of such an order. Unfortunately, one can never be sure which violent partner will obey and which will violate a court order. Here are some steps that a person can take to help enforce her partner's court order:

I recognize that I will have to report to the Police when my partner breaches any conditions of the court order. If a Police Officer does not assist me, I will report the breach of the court order to the Officer In Charge or to the Police Chief of the Police Service in the jurisdiction where the court order was violated. I understand that my partner may be charged if I contact him.

I will get a copy of my partner's court order from the court office located at _____________________________ and keep it with me at all times. (If you change purses/wallet, that's the first thing to go in.)

If my partner destroys my copy of his/her court order, I can get another copy from the court, located at: ____________________________.

If I relocate to another city/town, or if I work in a city/town other than where I reside, I will notify the Police Service/OPP detachment in that city/town, of my new address/work location AND of my partner's violent behavior and the details of his court order.

For further safety, if I often visit other cities/towns/countries, I will notify the Police service in the jurisdiction I am visiting, of my partner's violent behaviour and the details of his (her) court order.

I will inform my employer _________________________, religious leader _____________________, closest friend ___________________, my outreach worker at the local safety network or shelter, and

_______________________, that a court order has been issued against my partner, including all of the conditions that effect myself and my children.

Step 5: Safety on the Job and In Public: 

Each victim must decide if and when they will tell others that their partner can become violent and that they may be at continued risk. Friends, family and co-workers can help to protect the victim. Each victim should consider carefully which people to invite to help secure her safety. A victim could do some or all of the following:

I can inform my boss, the security supervisor, and _______________  (secretary, co-workers, etc.), at work of my situation.

I can ask _____________________ to help screen my telephone calls at work. I can also make use of telephone voice messaging to screen my calls.

When leaving work, I can walk from the building ___________ (accompanied by security, co-workers, friends) to ensure my safety. 

If problems occur while I am driving home, I can (use my cellular telephone, in-car telephone, personal sound-alarm; honk my horn continuously, drive directly to a well-lit public place that is open and heavily populated, drive directly to the local Police Service/ OPP detachment for assistance). . . ;

If I use public transit, I can __________________________ (sit close to the front by the driver; arrange to have someone meet me at my bus stop and walk me home; once I arrive home, call a friend or relative to let them know I arrived safely).

I can use different grocery stores and shopping malls to conduct my business and shop at hours that are different from those I used when living with my partner.

I can also __________________________________

Step 6: Safety and Drug or Alcohol Consumption:

Most people in our culture consume alcohol. Many consume mood-altering drugs. Much of this consumption is legal and some is not. The legal outcomes of using illegal drugs can be very hard on a victim, may hurt relationships with the victim's children, and put the victim at a disadvantage in other legal actions with the abusive partner. Therefore, victims should carefully consider the potential cost of the use of illegal drugs. But beyond this, the use of any alcohol and other drugs can reduce a victim's awareness and ability to act quickly to protect both the victim and the victim's children from the batterer. Furthermore, the use of alcohol or other drugs by the abuser may give the abuser an excuse to use violence. Therefore, in the context of drug or alcohol consumption, a victim needs to make specific plans. They may include some or all of the following:

If I am going to consume, I can do so in a safe place and with people who understand the risk of violence and are committed to my safety.

I can also (call a friend, call alcoholics anonymous sponsor, etc.)

If my partner is consuming, I can (leave with the children, call a friend, call a friend of my partner's) ____________________________________.

To safeguard my children, I can (remove them from the scene where my partner is consuming) ________________________.

Step 7: Safety and My Emotional Health.

The experience of being abused and/or verbally degraded by partners is usually exhausting and emotionally draining. The process of building a new life for yourself takes much courage and incredible energy. Here are some things a person can do to conserve emotional energy and resources, and to avoid hard emotional times:

If I feel down and ready to return to a potentially abusive situation, I can (call a friend, relative or shelter worker for support) or,

When I have to communicate with my partner in person or by telephone, I can (advise him I am recording what he is telling me and then I will do so, I will arrange to have a trusted friend or close adult relative present during these meetings/communications, or make arrangements for all communication to go through a lawyer or another unbiased third party) or _________________________.

I can use "I can ......." statements with myself and be assertive with others.

I can tell myself, "I'm in charge of my life and confident in my decision-making abilities or (other positive statements about my abilities) ______________________________" when I feel others are trying to control or abuse me.

I can read (my spiritual teachings, poetry, self-help resources) or ____________________ to help me feel stronger.

I can call (names of friends, family, other support people) _________________________________________ to be of support to me.

Other things I can do to help me feel stronger are ________________________

I can attend workshops and support groups offered through the church, community resource centre, women's shelter or women's resource center or Health Unit located at _________________ to gain support and strengthen my relationships with other people.

Step 8: Items To Take With Me When Leaving:

When victims leave partners, it is important to take certain items with them. Beyond this, victims sometimes give an extra copy of papers and an extra set of clothing to a friend, just in case the victim has to leave quickly. Items with asterisks on the following list are the most important to take, but are not in order of priority. If there is time, the other items might be taken or stored outside the home. Items to take when leaving should be placed ahead of time in one location so that they can be grabbed quickly if one has to leave quickly. 

Items to take:

My Identification (birth certificate, driver's license, passport, etc.) 

Children's birth certificates * "' Social Insurance Cards 

My partner's Social Insurance Number 

My health card 

My children's health cards 

School and vaccination records 


Checkbook, ATM card 

Credit cards 

Bank books 

Keys - house, car, office 

Medications / prescriptions 

Custody Orders 

Welfare / Mother's Allowance identification

Work permits 

Lease / Rental agreements, property deed(s) 

Mortgage payment documents



Small salable objects

Immigration papers


Divorce documentation 

Medical records for all family members 

Insurance papers

Address book

Children's favorite toys and/or blankets 

Items of special sentimental value

Vehicle ownership documents 

Native Person Status Card / documentation

Employment / pension documentation

Telephone Numbers I Need to Know:

Police, Fire, Ambulance: 911, or _______________________. Shelter for Women: __________________________' Rape Crisis Line: ________________________________.

Women and Children's Crisis Line:

Kid's Help Phone: 1-800-668-6868. Nationwide, 24 hours, both French and English; not just a crisis line, but to answer any question anytime.

Victim Support Line: 1-888-579-2888, or in Toronto: (416) 314-2447.

Victim Support Line (Internet)

Doctor: _______________________________

Religious Leader: _________________________

Lawyer: _______________________________

Work: _____________________ Work Supervisor's Home: Children's School: __________________

Children's Daycare: Social Worker:

Other Important Number: Contact Police Officer: