Creating a safety plan - Hastings Women's Refuge

A safety plan is a way of working out how to leave your partner when it is time to go. You’re probably already worrying about how you can get away safely if you decide it’s too much. We’re going to try to help you find a way to leave on your terms.

Abuse comes in many shapes and forms and it can be hard to spot the fact that it is threatening the safety of you and your children. If you do start to worry about whether you are safe with your partner then we recommend you start a plan for leaving.

Thinking about leaving and doing it are two different things. If you would like to discuss your situation confidentially then call 0800 REFUGE. We are here to listen and offer support and all of our conversations are completely confidential.

Are you in immediate danger?

Before you read any further it’s important to make sure that you and your children are not in immediate danger. Are you safe? Please trust your instincts.

If you’re in immediate danger call the Police and then talk to us about how to stay safe. You can contact Women’s Refuge confidentially on 0800 REFUGE (733 843) 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. If you are afraid, please seek help urgently.

The aim of a safety plan

A safety plan is designed to give you control over how you are going to leave. You may be aware of the fact that you need to leave, but be unsure how you are going to make it happen. Or perhaps you are concerned that trying to leave could aggravate the situation.

By creating a plan you can take practical steps to get out and get safe.

If in doubt, call 111

If at any stage in the planning process you need immediate help: call 111. Only you can decide when enough is enough, but it is important to put your safety and the safety of your children first at all times. We are here to help you.

Pack a bag

If you’re getting ready to leave it’s important to make sure you take essential items with you. Packing a bag at home could be a dangerous trigger, so it’s worth planning to leave these things with a friend or family member. If you cannot pack a bag safely then don’t.

Have a think about any important documentation, medicine, toys or keys you may need to have access to. If you are packing for children consider what clothes they might need for the short term. It’s important that you can pack this bag in a way that will not create suspicion or trigger a reaction in your partner. If that’s not possible then leave everything and plan how to get out instead.

Know who to call

In a crisis it’s important to know who can help you. Make sure you have quick access to any phone number you might need, such as Police, Women’s Refuge, Doctors, Lawyers and friends and family. The crisis could happen when you don’t expect it so having these numbers is an important way to protect your safety.

Think carefully about how you will make a call and what that means for your safety. If your partner checks your phone regularly you may not want to have these numbers stored in it. Be proactive in deleting your recent call list to avoid suspicion.

If possible, consider keeping a second phone with emergency numbers stored in it. Work and Income may be able to help you with the cost of this. Remember you do not need credit to call emergency numbers so if you are in danger, call 111.

If you can and it’s safe, tell your friends and neighbours that you are concerned about your safety and the safety of your children. They may be able to keep watch and call the Police if they are worried about anything they see or hear. If you do exit in an emergency make sure you switch off the GPS on your phone as part of your exit plan.

How will you get away

If you expect to be leaving by car then get another set of keys cut now. There’s every chance you could be in a situation where your partner will try and close down your exit path – for example by holding on to your car keys. It’s vital that you create an alternative way to get out.

Plan your route in advance and know how you will get there. You could use your own car, take a bus or taxi, or use a Refuge van. It’s important to consider both how you will leave if you decide to in advance, and what you will do if it just needs to happen now.

If your children are old enough and you can safely explain to them what is happening, get them to rehearse how they will get away and where they will go. You can do this as a family and rehearse it like a fire drill. This could protect your children if you are not able to.

Where will you go

Plan now where you will go when you need to get away. It needs to be somewhere where you will be safe and ideally your partner will not be able to find you. This will help you gain control of the situation and work out how you choose to move forward.

This could be another house or flat, a friend’s house or a Women’s Refuge safe house. If you need to move to another city or country Women’s Refuge can help with that too.

Be safe

The most important thing is that you and your children are safe. Creating a safety plan is a great way of planning to leave on your terms. If you find you need to leave sooner then do.

If you are in danger or your children are in danger it doesn’t matter if you have your things with you. Your priority is getting out and staying safe.

Call Women’s Refuge at any time, day or night, if you have any questions about how or when to leave your partner. Our services are free and confidential and we are here to help.


0800 REFUGE (0800 733 843)

06 870 6024

We’re here to help you on this phone number 24/7.

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