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What do I do to prepare to leave?

Preparing for and planning your safety is often an overwhelming and frightening task. The guidelines below are meant to assist you in doing what is best for your particular situation.

Two key components in planning for the safety of you and your children:

  1. First, PRACTICE. Together with your children, plan and practice escape routes, whether that means opening the windows, removing the screens and climbing out, or if that means having the children get their favorite toy and meet you in the car. PRACTICE.
  2. Second, pay attention to your emotional health. You and your children are or have been in a stressful situation and it is important to acknowledge that and take care of your emotional selves.

Safety Planning With Your Children

  • Plan and rehearse an escape route out of your home.
  • Teach them a code word, and tell them to call 911 when you use that code word.
  • Teach them how to use a public telephone to dial 911.
  • Inform your children’s school, day care provider, etc. about who has permission to pick your children up.
  • If necessary, provide school/day care personnel with a photo of your abuser, with strict instructions not to release your child to that person. Make sure they have a copy of your restraining order if you have one.
  • Ask school personnel not to give out your address or phone number.

Safety During an Incident With Your Abuser

  • Stay out of rooms that have no exit (closets, bathrooms).
  • Avoid rooms that have weapons (kitchens, bedrooms where there may be a gun).
  • Select and use a code word that alerts your friends, neighbors and family members to call 911.
  • Use your instincts. If the situation is dangerous, consider giving the abuser what he or she wants to calm him or her down.


Safety When Preparing to Leave Your Abuser

  • Identify and practice how to get out of your home safely.
  • Prepare a suitcase and leave it with a friend. See our suggested checklist for items to pack.
  • Open a post office box so that you can receive mail/checks.
  • Determine ahead of time where you might be able to stay temporarily. Keep in mind that you don’t want your abuser to find you.
  • Keep important phone numbers on you, including numbers of domestic violence shelters.
  • Purchase a phone card and keep it in your wallet.
  • Try to save money in a separate savings account in your name or give money to hold to a trusted friend.
  • Review your safety plan as often as possible.
  • DON’T LEAVE UNTIL YOU ARE READY. This is often a dangerous time, and abusers sometimes become more angry or abusive.

Safety At Home (When the Abuser has Moved Out)

  • Change the locks on your doors.
  • Buy locks for your windows.
  • Talk to a neighbor about the violence, and ask that they call the police if they hear a disturbance coming from your home.