Safety Planning Upon Leaving
It may take weeks or months to carry out a plan to leave.
It is okay to ask for help from others. Make a list of people who are supportive to you now and who you can ask for support going forward. Some potential sources of support include
- Employment (e.g., boss, coworkers)
- Counselors for you or your children
- Employment training
- Group counselling
- Recreation centre, social club, and/or hobby club
- Social services/social worker
- Transition house/shelter
- Food bank
- Church/faith community
- Spiritual leader¹
If You Are Thinking About Leaving
- Consider opening up a savings account for yourself, not a joint account.
- Consider opening up your own post office box.
- Consider getting a new phone number, new phone, and voice mail to be left in a safe location, such as with a trusted friend. Have new employers or possible landlords call you on this line.
- Try to find employment if you are unemployed so that you can be financially independent from your spouse.
- Explore options for school or upgrading if interested.
- Research community resources (e.g., ASP Crisis Line: 780.464.7233, the Strathcona Food Bank, Alberta Income Support, Alberta Fleeing Abuse Fund.
- Look at places to rent.
- Decide which people in your life will continue to support you no matter what and which ones will not. These are difficult decisions to make, however, you need a circle support around you during this vulnerable time, not people who will judge you or not have faith in your decision making. No one knows what you are going through except you, so trust your instincts and let go of the rest.
- Consider talking with a family law lawyer regarding custody, visitation, and parental rights².
If You Or Your Partner Has Left The Family Home
Call your local Victim Services Department and ask for a security assessment. They can visit the home and advise on ways to keep your family more secure such as changing the locks, adding security cameras, replacing doors, trimming trees, or adding lighting or light timers.
Get an unlisted number if it makes sense and screen your calls.
Inform people such as the school and day care staff who is legally able to pick up your children. Give these people copies of court orders stating the same.
Inform neighbours and friends that your partner no longer resides with you and that they should call the police if they are seen nearby³.
General Safety Planning for Children
Have your child identify a safe room in the house preferably with a lock on the door and a phone.They need a known safe place to go when the abuse is occuring.
Stress that safety is key and it is not their responsibility to keep their abused parent safe.
Teach your children how to call for help, whether its to 911 or to a trusted friend or family member. Teach them specifically what to say, such as: “Daddy is hurting Mommy.” Ask them to call when safely out of sight of the abuser.
Ensure that your children know their full address or rural fire code address.
Rehearse with your children what to say when they do speak to 911. Remind them to not hang up the phone. If they do, the police will call the number back and it could make the situation worse.
Pick a safe place out of another home to meet your children after the situation has rectified.
Plan with your children the specific route they will take to the planned safe place.
Important Items to Take
Copy and collect all important documents and place them in a safe place (e.g., trusted friend’s home or safety deposit box in a bank where your partner does not go).
Alberta Health Care and Social Insurance cards.
Credit and bank cards, chequebook.
Birth certificates (for you and the children).
Passport, immigration, or citizenship papers.
Titles of property, lease, mortgage, and insurance papers.
Immunization card for the children.
Driver’s license and car registration.
Custody order, separation or divorce papers.
Personal Items to Take with You:
Medications and prescriptions for you and your children.
Keys: house, car, office, safety deposit box.
Clothing for you and the children.
Personal hygiene products.
Items of special sentimental value.
Children’s favorite toy and/or blanket.
Eyeglasses and any needed medical equipment.
¹Cory, J., & McAndless-Davis, K. (2014). When love hurts: A women’s guide to understanding abuse in relationships (2nd ed.). WomanKind Press.