This may seem excessive, but a victim of abuse can become a homicide victim. Take what applies to your situation, as this is a “worse case scenario” safety plan.
Set up a Venmo/Cash App! Venmo even sends you a Debit card, no charge. People in the know can easily send you money and likely will.
Before you get out or if it’s clear you can’t, tell your children to hide in the pre-planned hiding spots in the house. Ideally any child capable of calling 911 has a burner, ON SILENT INCLUDING TURNING THE SPEAKER DOWN SO A DISPATCHER’S VOICE ISN’T HEARD, have them call 911 with it, but tell them not to speak. Tell them just to leave the phone open and try to keep the light from the phone covered. If you can safely get the kids out, i.e. a backdoor when the abuser comes in the front, do it!
If you don’t have a car or the abuser incapacitates it (slashes tire(s) or something):
- If in your own neighborhood, chances are good some neighbors are aware of the situation. Therefore, don’t be embarrassed. Ask if you could run to their back yard to hide at a minimum until the police arrive. Ask 3 different ones and hard as it is, try to ask the ones your abuser wouldn’t think you speak to.
- Plan on getting children out and assigning each house #1, #2, #3. Tell them which one to run to right before they leave, so you know you minimize the chance of the abuser seeing them. Now you know where they are. STRESS THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING AND STAYING AS QUIET AS POSSIBLE!
- If you are in an isolated location, scout out and again label #1#2#3 hiding spots and let the children know. Ideally, try to hunker down if you know they didn’t see where you hid. It’s easier to spot a moving target. AGAIN, STRESS THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING AND STAYING AS QUIET AS POSSIBLE!
- Hiding in the car if it can’t be moved is ill-advised. It won’t take a determined abuser much to get in, they’ll probably accomplish the task before help arrives. Although if you are leading the abuser away, consider having the kids hide there, crouched down, and remind them to call for help. Keep a burner in the car as well, in the confusion they may forget their’s.
- Every night, when not driving anymore that day, put a gas can partially filled in the car if you’re hesitant to stop in public and just want to keep going. Extreme fear happens, right?
- DRIVE DIRECTLY TO A POLICE STATION, FIRE HOUSE, OR HOSPITAL IF IT’S APPARENT YOU WON’T OUT RUNOUT RUN THEM. Even if your abuser is law enforcement, it’s still the safest option in that moment.
- If you’re leading the abuser away from children. LEAVE THEM! Make sure as well as you can they have gone undetected to a safe zone. They have a burner, let the police/ designated safe person find them. Tell them exactly what to say. Leave a script, if your child can read, at the safe zone where it can’t get wet, even in a plastic baggie. Leave a seperate note with the script for the police/safe person. If using a safe person, plan a meeting spot.
- Keep a go bag in the car and in the house, but hide things outside the go bag in case the abuser grabs it. If no car, potentially in a water proof bag even in a bush outside. These things are not only more important than a go bag, they are also more portable.
Things to hide outside of the go bag throughout the car or somewhere else:
- Venmo/Cash/Means to access money
- Knife/Taser AND Mace (trust me some people fight through mace pretty easily, as witnessed first hand at BLM events)
- Forms of ID, including vital paperwork such as birth certificates and passports. Also, can take a pictures at a minimum with the burner.
The go bag. Ideally pack backpacks kids can carry as well, unless you think it will slow them down too much.
- If you are aware money will be scarce pack no prep needed food (granola bars & whatnot)
- If winter, skip underwear to save space, thin p.j. bottoms or long underwear. Have the kids sleep in these so they can pull pants over them.
- Pants. In reality you should sleep in pants you can wear in public, less you have to pack and you want to appear sane to judgmental pricks. Shirts and shoes by all exits if possible.
- Slippers with soles are best to slip on quickly. Accessible coats with gloves, hat, and hot hands (maybe even a space blanket) already in the pockets. Make sure kids know how to activate the hot hands and that they can put them anywhere, they don’t have to just be used for their hands.
- REMEMBER THIS IS A TEMPORARY SITUATION.
- If you can, there are many coats that stuff into bags. Even down one’s.
- A few small things you know will bring the kid(s) comfort. A book like Beverly Cleary to read to them.
- Jewelry, both that you want to keep or hock.
- If summer, should be esier to pack clothes. You can swap out slippers for slides/flip flops, but consider the need to run before you make that choice. Consider again the packable jacket, as in a rain coat.
- Flashlight: Here’s the thing. Kids need to know they should probably not use them. The goal is to go unseen. Best for use only if you’ve lead the abuser away and they really can’t see. You can also instruct them to turn them on if they know you’ve lead the abuser away and they hear the voice calling for them is definetly not the abuser.
- If you do have a car, blankets and more no prep food.
If the abuser is an officer of the law (meaning DAs and retired officers too):
- Have kids contact someone other than the police. Ideally give them more than one name in case they have trouble reaching someone. Hopefully, if a neighbor agreed to help they will agree to help without insisting on contacting the police.
- Ditch the smart phone make sure location is turned off of burner.
- Definetly don’t count on using any card/account your abuser knows about.
- Unless you somehow managed to get a letter notarized from the abuser that states the children are allowed to leave the country. DON’T TRY TO, EVEN WITH A PASSPORT! If the abuser is law enforcement, but has no parental rights and you have passports and/or necessary paperwork…you may consider this an option. Yes they’ll get the border alert possibly, but if you know you can hide immediately or get distance it may be worth it.
Expensive to prep?
- Food pantries stock many foods that don’t require prep.
- Goodwill or charities like churches are excellent options for procuring clothing, blankets, shoes, and so on for when you need duplicate or triplicate of anything.
- Burners are cheap nowadays with easy to add minutes. As little as $5 increments. I don’t recommend this as the first choice because it doesn’t allow for contacting anyone but police, but shelters will also offer phones that dial 911. Your old phones don’t have to have service to call 911, either.
Preplan a destination, but also prepare to worry about it when you get some place safe. Someone my be able to meet you or you can access the internet from a safe server (Library, Cafe, FedEx express even has computers and you can print).
Planning ahead includes preparing for plans to get derailed. Prepare for this so you are calm enough to improvise.
3 thoughts on “Safety Plan: Escaping Abuse”
I very much love that you took the time to write this. Thank you. Victims being able to access and learn information that can and will help them is so vital. Apps like the four in the following link (+ Bright Sky) can also be really effective tools! [https://fairygodboss.com/career-topics/domestic-violence-app]
Awesome! Information on resources is invaluable.
I agree! Thankfully, I haven’t been in a situation quite as bad as the ones described above, but I did happen to remember the apps from times when I was trying to help out others. There is another out there in the world that is a ‘domestic violence help’ app that’s disguised as another different, harmless app, but I couldn’t find it because I can’t remember its name.