Safety Assessment & Risk Management
Although leaving an abusive or violence relationship will enhance safety over the longer term, it is a fact that the most dangerous time for a woman is:
- prior to separation
- while separating and
- shortly after separating.
Safety planning is critical and should be a fluid process throughout any transition. Preparing for the possibility of future violence is most often done through an individualized safety plan. While this is not a guarantee it can provide the knowledge and the tools that will help get you and your children to safety.
What is Safety Planning?
Safety planning is an active process where each individual safety plan created requires ongoing review and revision as situations and risks influencing your safety or your children’s safety can change at any time.
What is a Safety Plan?
A safety plan is an individualized written plan of action that is designed to help reduce the risk of further victimization. A person can have many individualized safety plans, each focussing on a different aspect of their life. For example a victim may have the following types of safety plans, such as; Safety at Home, Safety at Work, Keeping my Children Safe, etc.
Things to Consider
If you are in an abusive relationship, think about...
- Having important phone numbers nearby for you and your children. Numbers to have are the police, hotlines, friends and the local shelter.
- Friends or neighbors you could tell about the abuse. Ask them to call the police if they hear angry or violent noises. If you have children, teach them how to dial 911. Make up a code word that you can use when you need help.
- How to get out of your home safely. Practice ways to get out.
- Safer places in your home where there are exits and no weapons. If you feel abuse is going to happen try to get your abuser to one of these safer places.
- Any weapons in the house. Think about ways that you could get them out of the house.
- Even if you do not plan to leave, think of where you could go. Think of how you might leave. Try doing things that get you out of the house - taking out the trash, walking the pet or going to the store. Put together a bag of things you use everyday (see the checklist below). Hide it where it is easy for you to get.
- Going over your safety plan often.
If you consider leaving your abuser, think about...
- Four places you could go if you leave your home.
- People who might help you if you left. Think about people who will keep a bag for you. Think about people who might lend you money. Make plans for your pets.
- Keeping change for phone calls or getting a cell phone.
- Opening a bank account or getting a credit card in your name.
- How you might leave. Try doing things that get you out of the house - taking out the trash, walking the family pet, or going to the store. Practice how you would leave.
- How you could take your children with you safely. There are times when taking your children with you may put all of your lives in danger. You need to protect yourself to be able to protect your children.
- Putting together a bag of things you use everyday. Hide it where it is easy for you to get.
Items to take if possible
- Children (if it is safe)
- Keys to car, house, work
- Extra clothes
- Important papers for you and your children
- Birth certificates
- Social security cards
- School and medical records
- Bankbooks, credit cards
- Driver's license
- Car registration
- Lease/rental agreement
- Mortgage payment book, unpaid bills
- Insurance papers
- Court Orders (criminal/family/civil)
- Address book
- Pictures, jewelry, things that mean a lot to you
- Items for your children (toys, blankets, etc.)
- Think about reviewing your safety plan often.
If you have left your abuser, think about...
- Your safety - you still need to.
- Getting a cell phone. Halton Regional Police may be able to assist you with one or both options of having a cell phone and or a GPS device.
- Changing the locks. Consider putting in stronger doors, smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, a security system and outside lights.
- Telling friends and neighbors that your abuser no longer lives with you. Ask them to call the police if they see your abuser near your home or children.
- Telling people who take care of your children the names of people who are allowed to pick them up.
- Ensure all teachers/child minders have copies of all pertinent court orders.
- Telling someone at work about what has happened. Ask that person to screen your calls. If you have a court order that includes your place of work, consider giving your Supervisor a copy of it along with a photo of the abuser. Think about and practice a safety plan for your workplace. This should include going to and from work.
- Not using the same stores or businesses that you did when you were with your abuser.
- Someone that you can call if you feel down. Call that person if you are thinking about going to a support group or workshop.
- Safe way to speak with your abuser if you must.
- Going over your safety plan often.
What is Cyber Safety?
Cyber Safety is knowing that they are certain safety risks when using the internet. While the internet is a wonderful tool to gather information, learn from others and to connect with family and friends, it can also be very dangerous place where predators seek out the vulnerable to cause anything from financial, emotional to physical harm.
Learning the risks and utilizing the tools to keep you and your loved ones safe on the internet is the first step to being Cyber Safe. Click here to watch a video on Cyber Safety Planning by Victim Services Quinte.
Mosaic Threat Assessment Systems
Community Legal Education Ontario
Ontario Network of Victim Service Providers
Ministry of Safety & Correctional Services, Domestic Violence Death Review Committee
Neighbours, Friends & Families: