Being Safe – Safety Planning Information

Table of Contents

Safety planning introduction
Tell someone
Determine a safe location
Using your debit/credit card
Keep a dated record of abuse, threats, stalking
Going to the hospital
Vary your routine
Learn the location of the nearest 24-hour public places
Calling the police
Know your rights
Accessing the legal system
Have an emergency bag
Using technology
When leaving is your best option

Safety Planning Introduction

Safety planning addresses the current risks that you have identified and prioritized. Create a plan for safety around each risk factor. These may include strategies for staying in a relationship or strategies for leaving a relationship, with personal safety as an aspect of each. At this time, some of the suggestions may be appropriate for you and others may not apply. As a survivor of domestic violence you do not have control over your partner’s violence and you do have a choice about how to respond.

The most effective safety plan is one that is responsive to your current situation, regardless of the status of your relationship. Whether you stay in your home or plan to leave it, continue the relationship or wish to end it, your strategies may vary depending on context. Additionally, if you are in transition or are unsure about what you want to do next, it may be helpful to consider the pros and cons of many options. Some situations can change quickly, and if your partner’s behavior has escalated and becomes more violent, you may want to take additional precautions and prepare for the worst-case scenario.

The strategies below includes options that may be useful at various stages of your relationship, and may need to be modified depending on immigration status, physical abilities, if children are involved, if you are dependent on your partner or adult children for primary care, if you are ‘out’ or not, and/or if you are a minor and need to include a parent in this process. Above all, trust your own instincts about what options are best for you.

An advocate at Safehouse Progressive Alliance for Nonviolence (SPAN) can offer support and assist you in assessing your options, your safety and your children’s safety, and the lethality of the abuser. To speak to an Advocate, call the confidential 24-hour SPAN Crisis and Information Line, at 303.444.2424. Please know that if you or your children are in imminent danger, we will call the police and we will work with you to aid in your safety the best way we can.

Safety planning is confidential, however we are mandated by Colorado statute to report any disclosure of child abuse or neglect and/or harm to self/others, even if you do not want us to make a report.

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Tell someone

  • Tell someone about the abusive situation, if you can.
  • Who can be a part of your support network? Family, friends, and associates including bosses, neighbors, teachers, and colleagues. A support network should include people that will keep your information confidential and will not share information about you with the abuser which could put you at danger.
  • If you do not live with the abuser and must be alone with them, can you inform someone of your whereabouts and check in with them at specific times? If someone supportive is aware of your plans, can they check on your safety or call for help if you don’t call or return on time? Can you share with someone code words which signify certain meanings or actions the person should take?
  • If you don’t have other support networks, we can support you as much as much as possible. You can always call our Crisis Line for 24-hour support.
  • If you and the abuser share the same small community space, consider safety planning around this common space. For example, you and the abuser may both attend the same gatherings or access the same services for LGBTQ communities, cultural groups, immigration communities, faith groups, etc. Or you both may share the same small group of friends. When considering joining or accessing the community space or service, you may want to safety plan for the possibility that the abuser may also be present. In addition, even if the abuser is not present, other members of the community may share information with the abuser that could put you in danger.

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Determine a safe location

  • There may be a need to determine a safe location where you can go if you feel threatened.
  • If you live with your partner, is there a room or place in your home where you feel safe?
  • Can you stay at a friend’s or family member’s home? Do you have numbers for domestic violence shelters?
  • Do you have a plan on how to get to this safe location (bus fare, etc.)?

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Using your debit/credit card

Be aware that information regarding the use of your debit/credit card can be accessed easily by your partner and may reveal your location. Also consider the risks if you and your partner have a joint account.

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Keep a dated record of abuse, threats, stalking

You may want to keep a dated record of physical abuse, threats, stalking, and destruction of property. Documentation can be helpful in establishing a pattern of abuse and may be useful if you decide to contact the police or take legal action in the future. Documentation includes anonymous and non-anonymous and/or excessive phone calls, text messages, and e-mails. Document abusive phone calls and save harassing voice or text messages. Photograph property damage. Keep any written material that is threatening or harassing. Write down the names of people who witness abusive incidents. If you, your children or pets have received medical care because of injuries resulting from abuse, keep all records and take photographs of injuries. All this evidence, including police reports, may help you obtain protection through the legal system. Even if you choose not to report right away, your documentation can help you get protection from your abuser in the future.

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Going to the hospital

  • Going to the hospital or accessing any medical aid either immediately following an incident of abuse or days to weeks after an incident may be a necessary step for your own healing and safety as well as be another option to document abuse that you have experienced. A few things to consider before accessing medical treatment are:
  • If any medical personnel have been told or believe that an injury is the result of abuse from a current or former partner abusing you, they are mandated to make a report to the police.
  • If anyone under the age of 18 reports having been sexually assaulted or an adult reports knowing a youth who has been sexually assaulted, medical personnel are mandated to make a report to the police.

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Vary your routine

You may need to vary your routine if you are concerned about being followed or stalked. Try choosing different routes or leave at different times each day. If you are going out, tell someone where you are going and when you plan to be back.

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Learn the location of the nearest 24-hour public places

If you believe you are being followed, go to the nearest 24-hour public place (like a fire station, 24-hour grocery store, a hospital, a police station). It may be beneficial for you to learn where the public places are located. You can consider carrying a “911 phone”.

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Calling the police

  • Calling the police or accessing Law Enforcement may be useful for some individuals, either to provide immediate intervention or to aid in documenting an incident or history of abuse. Some survivors’ views of Law Enforcement may vary depending on their experiences as members of marginalized communities such as Immigrants, LGBTQ People and People of Color.
  • Mandatory Arrest: If officers are called out and they have probable cause to believe someone committed an act of domestic violence, the suspect of the crime must be arrested. The legislature has told the officer that he must do this “without undue delay,” meaning that if the person is there, the arrest must be made then and there. In addition, the arrested person will be booked into jail and cannot be given a bond until the victim has been informed of the bond hearing and given a right to be heard.
  • Primary Language: If English is not your primary language or you do not feel comfortable speaking in English to police officers, most police departments have access to translators or Language Lines that allow for people to speak in their native language to someone over the phone. This does not mean that a translator or language line will always be provided.

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Know your rights

  • Colorado Immigration Rights Coalition (CIRC) can be reached at 303.922.3344. CIRC suggests that immigrants know they have the right to state following when questioned by law enforcement or ICE representative:
    • Have I done something wrong?
    • Am I free to leave?
    • I do not consent to a search.
    • I am going to remain silent.
    • I want to speak to my lawyer.
  • You do not have to reveal your immigration status.
  • As a crime victim, you are not required to report your immigration status to the police.
  • You do not need to be a citizen or have papers to get a Civil Protective Order.
  • You are entitled to receive emergency medical care, regardless of your immigration status.
  • Your immigration status does affect your eligibility for government assistance and benefits.
  • If you go to shelter, you have the right to keep you immigration status private.
  • We can provide you with legal resources.

To address any questions or concerns around the specifics of your situation please contact our Legal Advocacy Team.

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Accessing the legal system

Accessing the legal system, the courts, Protective Orders U-Visa, T-Visa and VAWA may be an option to protect you from an abusive partner or to divide assets or pursue custody of children. SPAN advocates can offer services, support and information as well as community resources and attorney referrals to aid you in navigating the court system.

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Have an emergency bag

The following list includes items that are helpful to have in an emergency bag, if for some reason you must leave quickly. Are there any private locations you can store your emergency bag where you partner wouldn’t think of checking (garage, car, neighbor’s home, work)? This does not imply that leaving is your only option but may help you be more prepared if leaving is your best option.

  • MONEY: While in the relationship, is it possible to take small amounts of cash progressively (like cash back at stores) if you do not have control over any finances
  • Take all bank and other account numbers, credit card information, passwords and check books. If possible, you may wish to change your passwords on certain accounts.
  • Extra keys for the car, house, P.O. box, etc
  • Cell phone and charger
  • A change of clothes for you and your children
  • Mass transit transportation schedules in the event that a car is not available
  • Motel numbers, DV and homeless shelter numbers, National DV Hotlines, 211 Call Center
  • Driver’s license, car registration, proof of insurance (if driving)
  • Your and your children’s birth certificates, insurance policies
  • Your children’s school ID card, or other identification if they have it
  • Pictures, jewelry, or anything that has sentimental value for you
  • Address book: phone numbers and addresses of friends and relatives
  • Medical records, prescriptions and cards, school records
  • Social security cards (yours and your children’s), work permits
  • Green card, passport
  • Medicaid card or other Social Services cards, if applicable
  • Medication, baby items (diapers, formula), some extra clothing
  • Medication for pets, pet food, and veterinarian information
  • Things you may need to help support your immigration case: I-94, copies of VISA applications, work permits, marriage certificate, photos of wedding, wedding invites, love letters, copies of police reports and medical records, photos of injuries, divorce papers (If there were previous marriages), any supportive documentation that show you have lived with your partner (ex. Copy of lease), any paper work you may have that could prove abuse, documentation of immigration status for you, your children (if any) and abuser

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Using technology

When using technology please consider the following:

  • Please visit http://stoprelationshipabuse.org/technology-safety/ for more detailed information about the following suggestions. Most of the below information was taken from this website.
  • Confidentiality – When leaving voicemail messages, text messages, e-mails, Facebook postings, etc. please consider that this information is not confidential and can be used against you by an abuser, the police, the court system and/or an employer.
  • Computers – If an abuser has access to your computer they can install a program which will monitor the activity on your computer. Consider using a computer that an abuser does not have access to.
  • Browsing the Web – The web browser records every webpage that is visited. Clearing the browser’s “history” may increase your privacy.
  • E-mail – If an abuser has access to your e-mail account, they may be able to read your incoming and outgoing mail. If you believe your account is secure than make sure you choose a password that your partner will not be able to guess and change it often. Consider deleting e-mails from the “Send” or “Outbox” in addition to your “Inbox” and “Deleted Items” folder.
  • Phone – An abuser can check a phone bill to monitor who you have called. Consider, getting a P.O. Box so that your phone bill can be sent directly to you. If your phone has an optional location service, you may want to switch the location feature off. If an abuser has access to your cell phone for a short period of time they can download a program to track your location through your cell phone.
  • Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram – Social networking sites are very easy ways for someone to get information about you, for example by monitoring who sends you messages and who are your friends. Use the privacy controls offered by these sites to restrict access to your page. You may want to consider removing your account at least on a temporary basis.
  • Passwords – Change your passwords often, and use different passwords for different sites and accounts. Do not use obvious passwords, such as your birthday or your pet’s name. Use passwords that include both letters and numbers so that they are harder for someone to guess.
  • Travel – Sometimes abusers use a global positioning system (GPS) device to monitor their partner’s whereabouts. These trackers can be placed on cars, cell phones, in purses, or other objects you frequently take with you or move around in.

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When leaving is your best option:

  • Where can you go that is safe? Do you need to have a plan of escape to leave the home safely?
  • How much will it cost, if anything?
  • Can you get the children out of the home safely or do you need help? Who can help you?
  • Remember to take your emergency bag with all the items you need.
  • Call SPAN if you would like emergency, confidential shelter or other options: 303-444-2424. Emergency shelter is available to all survivors of domestic violence including undocumented immigrants, people with disabilities and transgender people.
  • Can pets stay with a friend or family member? If not, SPAN has a “Safe Haven” program, in collaboration with the Human Society of Boulder Valley. Call the 24-hour Crisis and Information Line for details.

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