Safety Planning

Recognizing violent behaviour can be the first step towards a safer life. It is important to make a safety plan whether or not you plan to leave an abusive relationship. Shelters are equipped to help you prepare a personalized security plan. You do not have to live in a shelter to access these services.


A safety plan is a personalized, practical plan that includes ways to remain safe while in a relationship, planning to leave, or after you leave

Protection planning is very important, since leaving a relationship can sometimes lead the abuser to become more dangerous because he sees control over his victim disappearing. If you feel that you are at risk of violence by your partner, we strongly advise you to develop a personalized safety plan as a first step in protecting yourself and your children.

In addition to planning in advance where you would go in an emergency and how to get there, a safety plan also includes thinking about how to deal with your emotions, tell friends and family about the abuse, take legal action and more. You should consider including the following in your safety plan:

  • Know the quickest route out of your home. Practice escaping that way.
  • Know the quickest route out of your workplace. Practice escaping that way.
  • Know the route to shelters, police stations, hospitals, and public places/stores that are open 24 hours a day
  • Use a device (phone, computer, etc.) that your abuser does not have access to.
  • Consider turning off the location tracker on your smartphone.
  • Decide who can help you and talk to them about your plan.
  • If appropriate, teach your children how to reach help (e.g. dialling 911, going to a neighbour) in an emergency situation.
  • Try to put aside some money that your partner doesn’t know about.
  • Make an extra set of car keys and hide them in case your partner takes your keys away when you want to leave.
  • If appropriate, tell your neighbours about the abuse and ask them to call the police if they hear a disturbance.
  • Have a code word to use with your children, family and friends. They will know to call the police and get you help.
  • Gather in one accessible place key documents such as your health card, bank and/or credit cards, keys, medication, legal papers, important phone numbers, jewelry/photos/sentimental items, a few items of clothing and favourite toys/blankets.
  • Have a bag packed with copies of important papers, clothes, etc. and store with a trusted friend or family member.
  • If a situation looks like it may turn violent don’t run to the bathroom or bedroom where you may be trapped; rather, head for the nearest exit.

Technology Safety Planning Resources from the BC Society of Transition Houses:


If you are in immediate danger, call 911 or your local emergency number

Your partner can often tell when you have made up your mind to stop the abuse. Do not underestimate your partner. Make sure your phone calls don’t leave tracks.

Your cell phone can keep records of the numbers that have been called. Local calls made on a regular telephone line will not produce a record, however, many telephones have a “redial” button, and you may want to call a friend or other “safe” number after you make any call you don’t want your partner to know about – they can check up on you just by pressing “redial”.

Internet-based telephones, which also go by names like “VOIP”, or “Network Telephony”, keep records of all calls. Web-based telephone systems, such as “Skype”, also keep records. You should not use these types of telephone systems to call for help if your partner has access as well.

The safest way to call or to receive calls from a shelter is from a friend’s phone, a public phone, a work phone, or any telephone that has nothing to do with your partner.