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Safety Planning

A “safety plan” is a term often used to describe a plan of actions that can help keep you safer from an abuser. Throughout these pages, you can find tips for keeping yourself and your family members safe in various situations. It’s important to know that not all of these suggestions work for everyone, and some might even put you at greater risk. Because of that, we encourage you to look through these safety tips and take those that make the most sense to you when creating a tailored safety plan for your specific situation. In some circumstances, a Restraining Order may be part of a safety plan. 

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Getting Ready To Leave


Make a plan for how you are going to leave, including where you’re going to go, and how to cover your tracks. Make one plan for if you have time to prepare to leave the home. Make another plan for if you have to leave the home in a hurry.

If you can, keep any evidence of the physical abuse and take it with you when you leave. Make sure to keep this evidence in a safe place that the abuser will not find – this may mean that you have to keep it in a locked drawer at work or with a trusted family member. If the abuser finds it, you could be in more danger. Such evidence of physical abuse might include:

  1. Pictures you have of bruises/injuries try to have these pictures dated;

  2. Torn or bloody clothing;

  3. Household objects that the abuser damaged or broke during a violent episode;

  4. Pictures that show your home destroyed or messed up 

  5. Any records you have from doctors/police that document the abuse

  6. Whenever you are hurt, go to a doctor/emergency room as soon as possible. Tell them what happened. Ask them to make a record of your visit and of what happened to you. Be sure to get a copy of the record.


Get a bag together that you can easily grab when you leave.

Some things to include in the bag are:

  • Spare car keys

  • Your driver’s license

  • A list of your credit cards so that you can track any activity on them

  • Your checkbook

  • Money

  • Phone numbers for friends, relatives, doctors, schools, taxi services, and your local domestic violence organization;

  • A change of clothing for you/children

  • Any medication that you/children usually take

  • Copies of your children’s birth certificates, Social Security cards, school records and immunizations;

  • Copies of financial documents for you and the abuser

  • Any evidence you’ve been collecting to show that you’ve been abused; and

  • A few things you want to keep, like photographs, jewelry or other personal items.

Taking your children with you

If you plan on taking your children with you when you leave, it is generally best to talk to a lawyer who specializes in domestic violence and custody issues beforehand to make sure that you are not in danger of violating any court custody order you may have or any criminal parental kidnapping laws. This is especially true if you want to leave the state with the children. 


If you are considering leaving without your children, please talk to a lawyer who specializes in custody before doing this. Leaving your children with an abuser may negatively affect your chances of getting custody of them in court later on. Go to our Finding a Lawyer page for a list of free and paid legal services.

After you’ve left

If you are fleeing to a confidential location and you fear that the abuser will go looking for you, you might want to create a false trail after you leave. For example, you could call motels, real estate agencies, schools, etc., in a town at least six hours away from where you plan to go and ask them questions that will require them to call you back. Give them your old phone number (the number at the home you shared with the abuser, not the number to the place you are going). However, do not make these phone calls before you leave. If anyone calls you back while you are still with the abuser, or if the abuser is able to check your phone to see what numbers you have called, the abuser would be tipped off that you are preparing to leave, which could put you in great danger.

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