Your safety is important and making informed decisions about staying or leaving an abusive relationship is critical to your safety. You are the expert in your own life and the only one who knows what is right and safe for you. Florida’s certified domestic violence centers have trained advocates who are dedicated to assisting you with finding options and developing your safety plan.
Do I Need a Safety Plan?
If you are experiencing domestic violence, you may want to consider developing a safety plan. A safety plan is for:
- individuals living with an abuser – because danger can occur at anytime
- individuals planning to leave – because few abusers allow their partners to leave peacefully
- individuals living away from the abuser – because danger often increases after a survivor leaves or ends the relationship
The trained advocates at one of Florida’s 42 certified domestic violence centers or a hotline advocate at the toll-free statewide hotline – 1-800-500-1119 – can help you plan.
What are Some Safety Tips in the Meantime?
- Identify a safe place to go if an argument occurs – avoid rooms with no exits (bathroom) or rooms with weapons (kitchen).
- Calls for assistance should be made from phones in safe locations.
- If you use email or instant messaging, use a computer and an account your abuser does not know about, or use a more private computer at a trusted friend’s house, a library or an internet café. See below for more information.
- If someone is threatening you or your children, take the threats seriously.
- Keep important items in a bag with someone you trust. Items include your identification papers/cards, keys, cell phone, bank statements, money, medicine, pictures of the family that include the abuser, proof of income, financial statements, visas, passports, green cards, insurance documents, birth certificates for you and your children, your partners personal information including date of birth, social security number, place of employment, license plate number.
- Change your shopping habits by choosing different grocery stores, retail outlets, etc. and change your travel routes to and from the stores.
- Change your travel routes to work, school, or places you travel to on a regular basis.
- Request confidentiality when working with agencies and religious organizations.
- Establish a code word so that family, trusted friends, teachers, or co-workers know when to call for help.
- Contact your local certified domestic violence center for assistance with safety planning.
- Computers create records in hundreds of ways of everything you do on the computer and on the Internet. They can provide a lot of private information about what you look at on the Internet, the emails you send, and other activities. It is not possible to delete or clear all computer "footprints" or history.
- If you are in danger, please try to use a safer computer where someone abusive does not have direct access, or even remote (hacking) access. Safer computer access may be at a public library, a community technology center (CTC) www.ctcnet.org (national directory), at a friend's house, or at an Internet Café.
- There are many ways to monitor computer usage. If you think your activities are being monitored, you are probably right. Abusive people are often controlling and want to know your every move. You don't need to be a computer expert or have special skills to monitor someone's computer activities - anyone can do it.
- If you think you may be monitored on your home computer, you might consider no home Internet use or "safer" Internet surfing.
- Example: If you are planning to flee to another city, don't look at classified ads for jobs and apartments, or bus tickets for that area on a home computer or any computer an abuser has physical or remote access to. Use a safer computer to research an escape plan.
National Center for Victims of Crime page on Cyberstalking
National Network to End Domestic Violence Safety Net Project
If you are in immediate danger, please call 911.
For advocacy or safety planning, call
- Florida's Domestic Violence hotline at 1-800-500-1119
- National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE
- U.S. National Teen Dating Violence Helpline at 1-866-331-9474
Online Safety Planning Tool for Survivors of Cyberstalking
In order to use this tool, please complete a safety plan with an advocate first. You will then be provided with the code to use this site. If you are not currently working with an advocate, you may contact the Florida Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-500-1119 or TTY: 1-800-621-4202 to speak with one.
FCADV creates and distributes safety planning tools throughout the state in multiple languages and addressing many culturally specific issues.
To order copies of FCADV's safety planning tools for your organization please contact FCADV.