For many people who have been affected by sexual and relationship violence, current and long-term safety can be an ongoing concern. Safety planning is about brainstorming ways to stay safe that may also help reduce the risk of future harm. It can include planning for a future crisis, considering your options, and making decisions about your next steps. Finding ways to stay and feel safer can be an important step towards healing, and these plans and actions should not increase the risk of being hurt.
- Become familiar with safe places. Learn more about safe places near you such as a local domestic violence shelter or a family member’s house. Learn the routes and commit them to memory.
- Create a code word. It might be a code between you and your children that means “get out,” or with your support network that means “I need help.”
- Keep computer safety in mind. If you think someone might be monitoring your computer use, consider regularly clearing your cache, history, and cookies. You could also use a different computer at a friend’s house or a public library.
- Lean on a support network. Having someone you can reach out to for support can be an important part of staying safe and recovering. Find someone you trust who could respond to a crisis if you needed their help.
- Setting Boundaries.
- Prepare an excuse. Create several plausible reasons for leaving the house at different times or for existing situations that might become dangerous. Have these on hand in case you need to get away quickly.
- Stay safe at home. If the person hurting you is in your home, you can take steps to feel safer. Try hanging bells or a noise maker on your door to scare the person hurting you away, or sleep in public spaces like the living room. If possible, keep the doors inside your house locked or put something heavy in front of them. If you’re protecting yourself from someone who does not live with you, keep all the doors locked when you’re not using them, and install an outside lighting system with motion detectors. Change the locks if possible.
- Safety Escorts.
Safety planning when someone is stalking you
- Be prepared to reach out. If possible, keep your cell phone charged and have emergency contact numbers programmed ahead of time including DPS 315-443-2224. You may want to save these contacts under a different name. Memorize a few numbers in case you don’t have cell phone access in the future.
- Change your routine. Be aware of your daily routine and begin to alter it over time. Switch up the way you commute more often, taking different routes or different modes of transportation.
- Tell someone you trust. Stalking shouldn’t be kept a secret. Tell your loved ones, parents or other trusted adults, or the local police to determine if a report can be made
Safety planning when leaving the person hurting you
- Make an escape bag. Pack a bag that includes all important papers and documents, such as your birth certificate, license, passport, social security card, bills, prescription drugs, and medical records. Include cash, keys, and credit cards. Hide the bag well. If it’s discovered, call it a “fire bag.”
- Plan a destination. If you’re not going to stay with someone you know, locate the nearest domestic violence shelter or homeless shelter.
- Plan a route. Then plan a backup route. If you are driving, have a tank of gas filled at all times. If you rely on public transportation, know the routes departure times. Many public transportation systems have mobile apps that update their schedules and arrival times.
- Prepare your support network. Keep your support network in the loop. Let them know how to respond if the perpetrator contacts them.
- Important Safety Note: If the dangerous situation involves a partner, go to DPS, Syracuse Police or a shelter first.
If you are in a sexual or relationship violence situation and need help, contact the Barnes Center Counseling and SRVR Team by calling 315-443-8000 (24/7) at anytime.
Syracuse University students, faculty and staff are encouraged to download Rave Guardian, a free app created by Rave Mobile Safety, which the University already uses to send Orange Alerts via platforms such as email, phone and text, provides a number of safety tools designed to keep you safe. With Rave Guardian, users can stay connected and receive important campus notifications, communicate with campus safety, and gain access to resources needed most.