About safety planning
Safety planning is a way to think about and develop a plan of action for when things are unsafe.
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There are many different ways to make a safety plan. A plan needs to be made to suit individual circumstances and will promote safety now. The plan will also change when circumstances change.
A plan can help to explore and map out options and ideas to increase safety when domestic and family violence is happening. It can also help those experiencing sexual assault when the perpetrator is someone known.
Family and friends can play an important role in helping with support and information. Domestic and family violence services and sexual assault services are also there to help organise and support. These services can help with thinking about options.
Understanding safety planning
You might be making a safety plan for yourself or with a family member or friend who is experiencing violence.
A safety plan for you
If you are making a safety plan for yourself, you will already have good ideas about what has, and hasn’t, worked. This is a strength. Think about the things that already work then have a look at the checklist below to see if any other options can help you build a plan of action for safety.
Here are a few important things to remember when making a safety plan for yourself:
The perpetrator is responsible for the violence. Trying to prevent the violence can leave you feeling like you are ‘walking on eggshells’ because people who are abusive often choose to find new triggers to justify and excuse their angry and controlling outbursts. Working out how to increase safety is not the same thing as taking responsibility for the violence or ‘blow-ups’.
Safety plans need to be updated regularly, especially when things change such as a pregnancy, a new baby, or a change in living situation.
Domestic and family violence services can support you and provide ideas to add to those you already have. Check here for local services, or phone 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732.
A safety plan with family and friends
When making a safety plan with someone experiencing violence, start by listening. The woman is an expert on her situation. First listen for, and ask questions about, what has been happening. This will help you understand the risks. Find out what she already does to increase safety, and use this as a basis for helping her to think about what else might increase her safety. The checklist below can provide a few ideas about how to develop the plan but not all of these ideas will be relevant.
Keep in mind that there may be multiple perpetrators and other individual needs that influence the plan.
Remember your job is not to judge or make decisions. ‘Just leaving’ is not always a safe option. We know that leaving is the time of greatest risk to life and safety. Work with your friend or family member to build a plan that works for her.
Here are a few important things to remember when making a safety plan for friends and family:
A safety plan can be part of building a trust relationship. This relationship may be the most important resource for victim/survivors.
If children are involved, you may find our video on Keeping Kids Safe helpful.
You may have mandatory reporting responsibilities if children are at risk of harm.
You may need to use expert services to assist you. If a woman wants these services, refer to experts in the domestic violence, legal, cultural and ongoing support fields. Check here for local services, or phone 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732.
A checklist for staying safe
This checklist is a general guide to things you can do to help you stay safe. Please note that safety planning needs to be tailored to each person’s individual circumstances.
This resource was developed for 1800RESPECT in collaboration with: