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Safety Plan: Preparing to Leave a Violent Relationship

Topic Overview

As soon as you start to think about leaving, you need to take extra care to stay safe. For example, if you printed out this information, it may be better off in the hands of a trusted friend than at home.

The more prepared and supported you are, the safer leaving can be.

Here are some tips that may be helpful. Keep in mind that this information is not official legal advice.

Steps to take when preparing to leave

  • Learn about your rights and get support from free resources.
    • The Government of Canada: Find Services in Your Area webpage at www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/health-promotion/stop-family-violence/services.html provides links to services in your area.
    • Call your provincial health line or check your local phone book.
    • The website icanplan4safety.ca has a free online tool to help you make a plan.
    • Your local women's shelter can help answer your questions. They also can help you deal with legal issues and find temporary housing.
  • Think about getting a protection order (sometimes called a restraining order).
    • Talk to the police or a hotline or shelter advocate about whether it might be a good idea for you.
    • If you get a protection order, always keep a copy with you. Give copies of it and a photo of your partner to your children's school and your workplace. (Front desk or security employees can use it to prevent your partner from entering.)
  • Collect evidence. For example, take pictures of bruises or broken objects. And take screen shots of threatening texts or missed calls.
  • Make a packing list. Include medicines and important documents (for you, your kids, and your pets). After you pack, hide the bag. Or leave it at work or with a trusted friend.
  • Be ready to call for help—quickly.
    • Learn to dial 911 fast. (Some phones have a built-in way. Others can be programmed.) If 911 is not available, learn the local emergency number in your area.
    • Memorize phone numbers of trusted contacts and the local shelter (in case your partner takes your phone).
  • Know how you'll leave, and practice your plan.
    • Plan to leave when your partner doesn't expect it.
    • Consider calling the police to be with you when you leave.
  • Know where you'll go.
    • If you plan to go to a friend's, also plan where you'll go in an emergency, such as a women's shelter.
    • Think about what you'll do if your partner confronts you.
  • Tell people who can help.
    • For example, your boss may be able to let you make changes to your work schedule.
    • Your neighbours may be willing to call 911 if they hear or see anything that worries them.
  • Prepare the kids.
    • Discuss safe places they can go outside and inside the home.
    • Have them memorize emergency contacts.
  • Make plans for pets. The website safeplaceforpets.org can help you find a place for your pet. Contact your veterinarian or local animal welfare association to see if help is available in your area.

Related Information

Credits

Current as of: December 16, 2019

Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:
William H. Blahd Jr. MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine
Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine
Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine
Christine R. Maldonado PhD - Behavioral Health
H. Michael O'Connor MD - Emergency Medicine

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