SAFETY ALERT!    Computer, telephone, tablet, and internet usage can be monitored by abusers -- remotely and without a user's knowledge -- and device history can be impossible to clear completely. If you think your internet and/or device usage may be tracked, use a safe friend's cell phone or computer. Most public libraries have computers and internet for public use.

 

What is a safety plan?

  • A safety plan is a practical, personalized plan to help you, your children, and your pets be safer in potentially unstable, dangerous situations. It's adaptable to changes in your situation and needs.
  • Safety planning helps you begin the process of taking back rightful control of your life and well-being. It takes into account your safety in various environments -- home, work, school, vehicle, electronic safety, etc. -- as well as incorporating an escape plan. 
  • Because an abuser's behavior may escalate and become more dangerous when a relationship is threatened or ending, always be prepared to call 911 and leave for your safety.

 

Need help and support with safety planning? 

  • Call our 24/7 hotline at 970-247-9619 to confidentially discuss ideas and suggestions with one of our advocates.
  • A detailed Safety Planning Checklist
  • RUSafe is a free, interactive iPhone/Android app for danger assessment and domestic-violence shelter/hotline contacts in your area.

 

If you may be in danger from an abuser who lives with you, whether or not you're planning to leave: 

Where possible, have as many of the following items as you can ready to go and hidden in a place where your partner won't find them. This could be in the trunk of your vehicle if you have one, in a small household storage bin that won't be noticed, at your work, or left with a trusted friend or family member.

  • $50 or more in cash
  • Small bag of extra clothing, personal items for you and your children, prescription medications, etc.
  • Extra house and car keys
  • Extra cell-phone charger
  • Important papers, account numbers and passwords, digital files stored on a USB stick, etc.
  • Essential phone numbers, if these are not in your cell phone's address book
  • A record of abusive incidents; include photos of property damage, personal injuries, harassing texts/emails, photo of your abuser

If your household is volatile and potentially dangerous, consider additional ways to protect yourself:

  • If it would be helpful, establish a code word or phrase with children, family, and friends that you can use with them in person or over the telephone to let them know of danger without alerting an abuser.
  • When an abuser shows signs of instability, agitation or anger, or you anticipate that coming, try to avoid rooms with a single exit door or where weapons or potentially harmful items such as kitchen knives are stored. If you have a cell phone, keep it charged and close at hand.
  • Try to keep your cell phone, keys, wallet, and shoes on or very near you in case you must immediately flee.
  • If you can hide any firearms, ammunition, and/or other weapons in the home without arousing suspicion and incurring risk, do so. Don't take any chances, however, that could put you or others at any risk of harm, including self-harm.

 

If you and your abuser are not living together:

  • Change the locks on your doors and any alarm codes, if used. Keep your home's and vehicle's windows and doors closed and locked.
  • Show people you trust -- including neighbors, coworkers, landlord, friends if trustworthy -- a photo of your abuser and ask them to report any sightings or encounters to you. If it doesn't feel safe to do that, trust your instincts.
  • To prevent losses in the event an abuser trespasses in your home when you're not present, keep with you or entrust to a safe person your important papers, account numbers, passwords, digital files on a USB stick, etc.
  • Carefully screen texts, emails, mail, and phone calls. Keep a record of any harassing communications including telephone hang ups, stalking, and suspicious behaviors.
  • Create a safety plan for going to and leaving home, work, school, etc., and share it with children and others. 

 

Financial Abuse and Safety Planning 

  • Some degree of financial control and abuse frequently occur in abusive relationships, often trapping a survivor in the relationship.
  • For strategies to start regaining your rightful financial control, see Financial Safety Planning.

 

Electronic/Digital Safety. Online harassment and stalking are abuse. Our usage of the internet, computers, tablets, cell phones, the Internet of Things (IoT), and smart home technology introduces vulnerabilities and leaves digital tracks -- call/text logs, photos, website visits, email access, location data via GPS, etc. -- that can be extremely difficult or impossible to erase, regardless of whether an abuser has intentionally installed spyware, tracking apps, and/or audio/video recording capability. Depending upon the level of access an abuser is able to establish, such data can be accessed remotely and without a victim's knowledge. 

If possible, without arousing suspicion and causing danger to yourself:

  • Enable password protection on your devices, using complex passwords that an abuser can't guess.
  • Change account logins. Use complex, unpredictable usernames and passwords. 
  • Log out of accounts whenever you're done. Opt out of having your browser remember your passwords.
  • If you are able to, consider getting a separate cell phone not associated with any existing telephone accounts known to your abuser and keep its existence private.

For a comprehensive list of digital safety resources and more information, see:

Some specific tech-safety tips from the above survivors' toolkit include:

 

Social Media Safety

  • Abusers frequently track their victims and children via social media.
  • As difficult as it can be to give up social media for an extended time, your safest course may be to close or suspend your accounts until you can be certain you and your children are safe.
  • At a minimum, lock down privacy settings on your accounts and those of your children, if they use social media; be extremely selective about who can view posts; set new, complex passwords on your social media accounts; and take extreme care with what you put online, posting as little personal information as possible. 

For more information, see:

 

Vehicular Safety. Check your vehicle for the presence of a GPS tracker that remotely transmits data to the abuser who installed it. If you're uncertain, use your vehicle as though it's being tracked until you can verify that it's free of any such devices.

 

Keeping Your Pets Safe

 

For College and High School Students: Loveisrespect.org exists to empower youth and young adults to prevent and end abusive relationships. Their safety planning information is here.