Staying Safe

This section tells you things you can do to keep yourself and your family safe from abuse by preparing a safety plan. Many of the suggestions are specifically for people in domestic violence or elder/dependent adult abuse situations, but everyone experiencing abuse or harassment can benefit from this information.

Safety plans

A safety plan has things you can do to keep you and your children safe from domestic violence and other abuse. You can get help to make a safety plan. Help is usually free or low cost and available in many languages. Click for help in your county.

You can also find more information on planning for your safety from the National Domestic Violence Hotline and the California Partnership to End Domestic Violence

Before and during an attack

  • When an attack starts, try to escape. If you feel you are in danger, leave your home and take your children, no matter what time it is. Go to the house of a friend or relative or a domestic violence shelter.
  • Defend and protect yourself. Later, take photos of your injuries.
  • Call for help. Scream as loudly and for as long as you can. You have nothing to be ashamed of — the abusive person does.
  • Stay close to a door or window so you can get out if you need to.
  • Stay away from the bathroom, kitchen, and weapons.
  • Practice your escape. Know which doors, windows, elevator, or stairs would be best.
  • Have a packed bag ready. Hide it in a place that you can get to quickly.
  • Identify neighbors you can tell about the violence. Ask them to call the police if they hear signs of violence coming from your home.
  • Have a “code word” to use with your children, family, friends, and neighbors. Ask them to call the police when you say that word.
  • Know where to go if you have to leave home, even if you do not think you will have to.
  • Trust your instincts. Do whatever you have to do to survive.

Get ready to leave

  • Open a savings account in your own name. Give the bank a safe address, like a post office box or your work address. Or take advantage of the Safe at Home program which gives you a secure address to use without having to reveal your confidential address.
  • Leave money, an extra set of keys, and copies of your important papers with someone you trust. You may need to leave home fast, and you will need these things later.
  • Think about who you could stay with and who can lend you money.
  • Keep the phone number of the domestic violence shelter nearby or stored in your cell phone (if safe). Keep some change or a calling card with you at all times so you can call if there is an emergency.
  • Leaving is the most dangerous time. Thinking about your safety plan before you leave will help you when the time comes.
  • If you have to leave your children, get them back as soon as possible. Get legal advice or call a domestic violence agency.

Be safe when you live on your own

  • Change the locks on your doors as soon as you can. Put locks on all your doors and windows.
  • Ask your local phone company (including your cell phone company) for an unlisted number. Sometimes this service is free.
  • Teach your children how to be safe, for times when you are not with them.
  • Make sure your children’s school or daycare provider knows who is allowed to pick up your children.
  • Tell your neighbors and landlord that your partner/spouse no longer lives with you. Ask them to call the police if they see your partner/spouse near your home.

Get a restraining order

  • Ask the court for a restraining order and keep it with you at all times.
  • Make sure your local police department gets a copy of your restraining order.
  • Call the police if the abuser breaks the restraining order.
  • Keep notes about any contacts, threats, messages, or letters the abusive person sends to you. If he or she leaves messages on your answering machine or cell phone, save the messages.
  • Think of how to stay safe in case the police do not get to you right away.
  • Give copies of your restraining order to everyone listed on the order and to family, friends, and neighbors who are willing to help you.

Be safe at work and in public

  • Tell the security personnel where you work. Give them a photo of the person you need protection from.
  • Decide who else to tell at work about your situation.
  • Ask someone at work to screen your telephone calls.
  • When you leave work, have someone walk with you to your car, bus, or train.
  • Do not take the same route home every day.
  • Think about what you would do if the person you need protection from approaches while you are getting to or from work.

Your safety and your emotional health

  • If you are thinking about going back to a situation that could be abusive, talk with someone you trust about other options.
  • Think positive thoughts about yourself.
  • Read books, articles, and poems to help you feel stronger.
  • Decide who you can call to get the support you need.
  • Go to a support group. You will get support and learn about yourself, domestic violence, and relationships.