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Safety planning is way to try to help survivors of domestic violence develop tools that can help them be safe during times when safety is compromised. Safety planning allows survivors to be able to plan out in advance possible scenarios that could arise and how to respond to those.
When leaving, it may be important to understand your rights as a tenant through your landlord. Please see this flyer from the Center for Justice on their Free Rental Rights Clinic to answer any questions you may have.
If you are experiencing violence in your relationship and want to do more in depth safety planning based on your specific circumstances, please call to make an appointment with one of our advocates at 509-789-9297 or contact us via our 24-Hour Crisis Line: 509-326-CALL (2255).
Below are some safety tips that may be helpful:
** Please be aware that many abusers will use technology as a way to find out what you are planning. Consider deleting your history after visiting this page.
Safety When Planning To Leave:
- Leave money, extra sets of keys, copies of important documents, extra medicine and clothing with someone you trust.
- Think of places you could stay if you leave home (if you do not have somewhere safe to go, you can contact our crisis line at 509-326-CALL and do a screening for our safe shelter. Collect calls are accepted).
- Open a savings account or credit card in your name in order to establish your independence.
- Be aware that motor vehicle records, including addresses, may be available to the public.
- Consider opening a post office box to prevent your partner from knowing your new address. You can also contact the counseling office at 509-789-9297 to determine if you would qualify for the address confidentiality program.
Review your safety plan often in order to know the safest way to leave your abusive partner.
** REMEMBER, LEAVING YOUR ABUSIVE PARTNER IS VERY DANGEROUS. BE CAREFUL AND BE PREPARED.**
Safety during an argument:
- If an argument seems unavoidable, try to have it in a room or area where you have access to an exit.
- Try to stay away from the bathroom, kitchen, bedroom, or anywhere else weapons might be available.
- Practice how to get out of your home safely. Identify which doors, windows, elevator or stairwell would be best.
- Keep your purse and car keys ready and in a safe place in order to leave quickly.
- Have a packed bag ready and keep it at a friend’s house in order to leave quickly.
- TAKE THE CHILDREN WITH YOU WHEN YOU LEAVE.
- Identify one or more neighbors you can tell about the violence and ask that they call the police if they hear a disturbance coming from your home.
- Devise a code word to use with your children, family, friends and neighbors when you need the police called.
- Teach your children how to use the phone to contact the police and fire department and how to make a collect call.
- Decide and plan for where you will go if you have to leave your home (even if you don’t think you will need to).
- Use your instincts and judgment. If the situation is dangerous, consider giving the abuser what is necessary to calm the situation. You have the right to protect yourself until you are out of danger.
- REMEMBER: YOU DO NOT DESERVE TO BE HURT OR THREATENED
- Review checklist of what to take with you when you leave.
Safety in your home (if your abuser is out of the home):
- Change locks on your doors as soon as possible. Buy additional locks, security systems and safety devices to secure your windows.
- Show your children how to keep all doors, windows and garage doors locked.
- Install an outside lighting system.
- Install smoke detectors and fire extinguishers for each floor in your house/apartment.
- Install peepholes, window bars, and/or poles to wedge sliding doors and windows.
- Purchase a rope ladder to escape from a second floor.
- When setting up bank, utility, phone and other services, request a security code to restrict access to account information.
- Inform your neighbors and landlord that your partner no longer lives with you and to call the police if they see your partner near your home.
- Explore whether your phone line is secure or if the line could be cut.
- Contact the YWCA Counseling Center for an emergency 911 cell phone.
Safety and your children:
- Create a safety plan for your children. Focus on what they think they can do to stay safe.
- Identify people who would help your children if they need it.
- Ask your children whether they feel comfortable asking that person for help.
- Teach your children how to call you and a trusted friend or family member collect.
- Inform your children’s school, day care, etc. as to who has permission to pick them up.
Safety on the job and in public:
- Decide who you will inform at work about your situation, including security workers. Provide a picture of your partner, if possible.
- Arrange to have caller ID, voicemail, or a trusted co-worker screen your telephone calls.
- Create a safety plan for when you leave work: Have someone escort you to your car or the bus and wait until you are safely en route. Use a variety of routes to go home, if possible. Think about possible safe places on your routes home.
- Use different grocery stores, gas stations, and banks and shop at different hours than you normally would.
Safety with a protection order:
- Keep your protection order with you at all times, including when you change purses. Give a copy to a trusted neighbor or family member.
- Call the police if your partner breaks the protection order.
- Think of other ways to keep safe if police are not able to respond right away.
- Inform family, friends, neighbors and your physician or health care provider that you have a protection order in effect.
- If you often visit other counties, file the protection order with the courts in those counties.
- Call the YWCA Legal Advocate Office at 509-477-3656 if you have any questions about the protection order process.
Safety and technology:
- Conversations on cellular, cordless phones, and baby monitors can be picked up on a scanner. Limit sharing identifying information.
- Most cell phones are enabled with GPS trackers that can be used to locate the user. Consider turning off this service on your your phone or turning your phone off when not in use.
GPS tracking devices are small and easy to hide on cars. If you feel you keep “running into” your ex/partner, have your car inspected by a mechanic or police to locate any GPS devices.
- OnStar can also be used to track your location.
- Be aware that any online or computer usage can be tracked. If you are using a computer that your partner has access to, avoid going to websites that will make your partner suspicious.
- There is no safe computer, but using public computers can make it more difficult to monitor your usage.
- SpyWare or computer monitoring software can track computer and Internet usage. Use anti-virus and anti-SpyWare software to keep it updated to maintain a safer computer. Computer security professionals consider any computer that has ever had spyware to be “tainted” until restored with the original discs. Be aware that even anti-spyware software may not be fully functional.
- Do not give out ANY confidential or identifying information through questionable emails. Use extreme caution when your information is requested. Create a new e-mail or online account that your partner is not aware of or create a separate email account for custody and visitation communication.
- Internet messaging and file sharing programs pose a HUGE safety risk. Avoid using these programs and discuss the danger of these programs with your children.
Contact the YWCA Alternatives to Domestic Violence program to discuss additional safety ideas.