Safety planning for women with disabilities

Safety plans can help women who are experiencing violence stay safe and be prepared for leaving a violent relationship.


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Safety planning for women with disability can pose greater challenges than for able-bodied women. Issues such as communication difficulties, limited mobility or special care requirements can mean that extra planning and support are needed. A well designed safety plan should be available in a usable format and be readily accessible by the person intending to use it.

As a starting point, a safety plan should:

  • List the contact numbers for a domestic and family violence organisation
  • List emergency contact numbers
  • Identify a safe place to go when there is danger, and how to get there
  • Identify a friend, family member or neighbour who can assist in an emergency, and how to contact them
  • Identify a way to get access to money in an emergency
  • Identify a way  to access emergency personal care assistance and support if required
  • Identify a place to store valuables and important documents so they can be accessed when needed
  • Specifically address any barriers implementing the safety plan (for example, leaving a pet behind, or having mobility or communication difficulties).

When developing a safety plan, some of the things women with disability will need to consider are: 

  • Where will you go if you need to leave quickly - a refuge, a friend’s place or a family member’s place? (Children are welcome at most refuges).
  • How will you get away? Do you need to get accessible transport? Would you need the refuge to pick you up or is there someone who can give you a lift?
  • Is there someone you trust who could help you leave quickly? If there is, let them know about your safety plan and how you would like them to help if you call.
  • Making a list of phone numbers of people who could help you. Important numbers might include: police, a friend or family member that you trust, domestic violence service, your nearest accessible transport service.
  • Putting aside some money in case you need a taxi.
  • Gathering together any special things and important documents for you and your children. These might include: a spare key for the house, photographs, important documents (or copies) like your birth certificate, Medicare card, passport, bank books or details, any medications you might need and any special information about your health. Put these things in a safe place, which might be somewhere in your home or at the home of a friend, neighbour or family member you trust.
  • Going  to a safe place like a women’s refuge. Sometimes you may decide it is best to leave the place you live for a while. You could go to a women’s refuge. A refuge may also be called a safe house or a shelter.  Some refuges (but not all) are accessible for women in a wheelchair or with a mobility restriction. If you need to, ask the person helping you to find a refuge that is accessible.

Getting help

All services that are available to able-bodied women experiencing sexual assault, domestic or family violence are equally available to women with disability. The following provides some information on where to find specialist support.

Tell someone what is happening to you

If you, or someone you know, is in immediate danger, call 000 now for emergency police assistance.

To make an emergency call using the TTY (Teletypewriter) service, call 106 for assistance.

To use the National Relay Service, call 133 677 (using a modem or TTY) or call 1300 555 727 (speech to speech relay service for callers with a speech/communication impairment). Both of the services are available 24 hours a day.

To speak to a counsellor, call 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732.

Talk to someone you trust

 If you have someone that you trust - a friend or family member or a worker at a service - you could talk to them. Tell them what is happening to you and how it makes you feel. You can ask this person to help you make contact with services who can help - like a domestic violence service, counsellor or the police.

Call a domestic and family violence service

If you need someone to talk to, or need support or information about domestic and family violence, you can call a domestic and family violence crisis line or service.  These services are available for all women and workers at the service will listen to you. The person you talk to can answer your questions so that you can decide what is best for you and your children. You can call a domestic violence crisis service any day, any time and this is often a free call. 

They can also help you to:

  • Take measures to increase your safety
  • Make a safety plan if you need to leave quickly
  • Find a safer place to go
  • Use the law to increase protection

You can find the contact numbers for domestic and family violence crisis lines and services in your state or territory by using the Services & support map

Call a sexual assault service

If you need someone to talk to about sexual assault, you can call a sexual assault service. Workers at these services can provide support and information. The person you talk to can answer your questions so that you can decide what is best for you. You can call a sexual assault crisis service any day, any time and this is a free call. 

You can find the contact numbers for sexual assault services in your state or territory by using the Services & Support map

Call 1800RESPECT

You can call 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 about domestic and family violence and sexual assault any time of the day or night. This is a free service that operates 24-hours a day, seven days a week. Experienced counsellors are available to talk and they can also help you to find services in your area.

If you have difficulties using the telephone because you are deaf or have a hearing or speech impediment you can use the National Relay Service:

  • For TTY/voice calls dial 133 667
  • For the Speak & Listen service, for people who can be hard to understand on the phone, dial 1300 555 727


Make yourself as safe as you can

While leaving home may be one way to stop violence, many people don’t want to or aren’t able to leave their home. If you choose to stay where you are, try to make yourself as safe as you can. Domestic and family violence services can discuss steps you can take to make yourself safer and options available to help reduce or stop the violence.

Use the law to increase protection

Many forms of violence are against the law. It is important to speak to the police if someone has been violent towards you. If someone has hurt you or made you scared for your safety, you can also use the law to help prevent this from happening again. The police can help you apply to the Courts to get a protection order. In some states and territories you can also apply directly to the Courts yourself for a protection order, or another person such as a support person or carer can do this for you.

You can find out more about getting a protection order by reading What is a protection order?

Keep telling people until you get help

If you tell someone and they don’t believe you or they don’t help you – don’t give up. Tell someone else. Keep telling people until someone helps you. You have the right to be believed. You have the right to get help. You have the right to feel safe where you live.

 


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