Safety Planning

Safety plans can help you to think about ways to increase your safety within a relationship, or plan the safest way to leave.

You can use the information below to help in your own safety planning. Women’s Aid, the Gardaí or your local domestic violence service can also help with safety planning.

If you are at home and are threatened or attacked:

  • Get out, if you can
  • If you cannot get out, try to go to a lower risk area of the house
  • Get to a room with a phone or carry a mobile with you
  • Try to avoid going into high-risk places like the kitchen and garage where there are potential weapons
  • Try to avoid rooms with small areas like closets or crawl-spaces where you can be trapped. You may be able to stay away from rooms without windows
  • Try to alert your friends, family, or a neighbour that you’re in trouble and need help
  • Call the Gardaí 999/112 when you can. Call the 24hr National Freephone Helpline on 1800 341 900 or use our Instant Messaging Service online.

If you are still living with your abuser, consider ways to increase safety for you and your children.  For example:

  • If possible, tell someone you trust about what is happening.  They can check in to see if you are safe
  • If possible, keep a phone in a room that locks from the inside and try to memorise and/or save emergency numbers
  • Carry a mobile phone at all times
  • Decide where you will go if you do leave home (even if you do not think you will need to)
  • Make up a code word to let the children, friends, family, or a neighbour know that you are in trouble and need help
  • If it is safe to do so, keep a handbag/overnight bag with important phone numbers and items in a place where you can grab it if you need to leave in a hurry

If you are preparing to leave your home or have to leave unexpectedly, thinking through your plans will help you feel more in control.

  • Decide where you will go and when you will leave
  • Try to memorise and/or save emergency numbers
  • If you can, open a savings account in your own name so that you have access to money when you leave
  • Leave money, spare keys, copies of important documents and clothes with someone you trust
  • Identify who will let you and your children stay with them or lend you some money if you need it
  • If your children are old enough, you might want to tell them that you might have to leave home at some point in the future. However, it is important that they can understand that this must be kept secret
  • If you decide to tell them you can
    • Tell them you have a plan for protecting them to make them feel safe
    • Let them know how important it is that they follow your instructions when you plan to leave
    • Plan an escape route and teach it to your children
    • Agree a code word to signal to your children that it is time to leave NOW

If you decide not to tell them, try to have their belongings ready for when you leave.

Do not worry if you cannot take anything with you, the most important thing is getting to safety.  You can always arrange to get access to important papers and belongings later.

However, if you do have time to prepare, try to take as many items listed below as appropriate:

  • Money
  • Clothing
  • Identification (driver’s license, passport, birth certificates for yourself and your children)
  • Medication
  • Credit and debit cards
  • Keys to your car, home, and office
  • Important numbers
  • Sentimental items such as photos or favourite books, children’s favourite toys or blankets
  • Important documents such as:
    • Any documents relating to the abuse (police reports or court orders)
    • Health insurance information
    • Social welfare documentation
    • School and medical records
    • Welfare ID or work permits
    • Housing documents such as a lease, deed, or mortgage payment statements
    • Financial records
    • Marriage license
    • Custody papers
    • Immigration papers

Ending an abusive relationship does not always mean that the abuse stops. Many women are abused by their ex-partners so you might need to take steps to keep safe, including:

  • Talk to Women’s Aid or your local domestic violence service about post-separation safety planning
  • Ask the Gardaí for home security advice
  • Depending on the level of risk, consider changing the locks on all doors, putting locks on windows and installing CCTV
  • Install lights at the front and back doors that come on automatically as someone approaches.
  • Think about possible escape routes
  • Tell the Gardaí about any Court orders you have in place
  • Cancel shared credit or debit cards
  • Open a new bank account in your name only
  • Change passwords to any online accounts including your social media pages

If you are being abused and/or stalked by your ex-partner:

  • Think about changing your number and screening calls using voicemail or blocking the number of anyone who is harassing you.  Save all messages that are threatening or which violate a domestic violence order
  • Try to alter routines and avoid places that you used when you were with your partner
  • If you have regular appointments or set routines (for example, work, health appointments, local shopping options) try to change the route you take, type of transport or arrange lifts
  • If you have to meet your ex-partner, try to do it in a public place
  • Prepare your children so they know what they should do if they see the abuser
  • Let teachers or childminders know who is authorised to pick up your children from school and make sure that no one gives out your contact information
  • Let your employer know about your situation, and arrange protective measures. This may include not going to lunch alone, asking a colleague to walk with you to the car or bus stop. You may also give your employer a photo of the abuser in case of a confrontation at work
  • Keep a record of all incidents of abuse and harassment, including the time and date and any damage done. Take photos of damage or injuries
  • Report any abuse to your local Gardaí station