Staying Safe


Deciding what to do when you are in an abusive situation is hard. It is common not to know whether to stay or leave. It is your choice. Below are some options for staying safe.


General Safety Planning

You can build your support system and find ways to be safer. This applies to whether staying with an abusive partner or leaving. You can’t control your partner’s abusive behavior. However, you can take steps to protect yourself (and your children if you have any) from harm. You know your situation best. You know when remaining in the home and/or in the relationship is no longer an option. Safety plans are important whether you are staying in or leaving a relationship. 

Staying In The Relationship

If you stay, you can find support and safety. Think of answers to the following questions. Remember, staying as safe as possible is the top priority. 

  • If you’re called names, how can you take care of yourself emotionally? What friends can you trust? 
  • Is there a safe place to stay in case you need to leave for a few days if it gets dangerous or if you need a break? 
  • What is the safest place in the house to avoid serious injury? 
  • What is the best physical position to take to avoid serious injury? 
Planning To Leave

Leaving takes planning. Think about the following questions. With time and the support of friends or a domestic violence advocate, you can make a safe plan for leaving. 

  • How can you get money? 

  • Will you be safe at home until you leave? 

  • When can you leave? 

  • How will your partner react? 

  • What might prevent you from leaving safely? 

  • Will you take legal action? 

  • Do you need an attorney?

    • Peace at Home has legal services available. Contact us for help.

Leaving The Relationship

Leaving is a big life change. You can still be in danger from your abuser. Think about the following questions. A new life is possible, even if it is hard to imagine. 

  • Will you have to move or change jobs so you can't be found? 

  • Will you need to stop talking to certain friends? 

  • Will you need to take a break from social media? 

  • Will you call the police or get an Order of Protection? 

What To Expect When Calling The Police

One goal of law enforcement is to ensure a victim’s safety. Most police departments understand the importance of responding quickly to calls about domestic violence. The first thing they will do when they arrive is to make sure that no further injuries will occur.


The police must then gather facts about what happened. They may talk to anyone who was part of the incident, or who witnessed or heard the incident. They will look to see if there is any “physical evidence” of an altercation, such as bruises or blood on a person, torn clothing, or broken furniture. The officers then evaluate what they have heard and seen. They will then decide whether a crime has been committed and whether anyone should be arrested. They can also call for medical help if it is needed.


Sometimes the police will arrest a person when they come to the scene. Sometimes they will arrest the person later. Sometimes they will never make an arrest. In almost all family violence cases, the police must arrest anyone they believe has committed a crime, based on the facts. 

Make A Safety Plan


A safety plan is a personalized and practical plan that helps you identify things you can do to better protect yourself (and your children) at home, school, work, and in the community. It will also help to reduce your risk of being hurt. The changes that occur may be big, like going to a confidential shelter or changing schools. The changes may be small, like changing your email passwords or the route you take to work. Planning can help you to safely escape violence, protect your children, and get assistance or support if needed. 


A Peace at Home advocate can help you create a personal safety plan.

Personal Safety Plan & Checklist
Before and During the Attack
  • When an attack starts, try to escape. If you feel you are in danger, leave your home and take your children, no matter what time it is. Go to the house of a friend or relative or a domestic violence shelter. 

  • Defend and protect yourself. Later, take photos of your injuries. 

  • Call for help. Scream as loudly and for as long as you can. You have nothing to be ashamed of — the abusive person does.

  • Stay close to a door or window so you can get out if you need to.

  • Stay away from rooms that only have one entry like the bathroom, and rooms that contain weapons or knives like the kitchen.

  • Practice your escape. Know which doors, windows, elevator, or stairs would be best.

  • Have a packed bag ready. Hide it in a place that you can get to quickly.

  • Identify neighbors you can tell about the violence. Ask them to call the police if they hear signs of domestic violence coming from your home.

  • Have a “code word” to use with your children, family, friends, and neighbors. Ask them to call the police when you say that word.

  • Know where to go if you must leave home, even if you do not think you will have to.

  • Trust your instincts. Do whatever you have to do to survive. 

Get Ready to Leave
  • Open a savings account in your own name. Give the bank a safe address, like a post office box or your work address. 

  • Leave money, an extra set of keys, and copies of your important papers with someone you trust. You may need to leave home fast, and you will need these things later.

  • Think about who you could stay with and who might be willing to lend you money.

  • Make sure you have access to a phone to call a crisis hotline or 911 if there is an emergency.

  • Leaving can be dangerous. Thinking about your safety plan before you leave will help you when the time comes.

  • If your  children are in school you can plan with them to pick them up early on the day you need to leave

  • If your children are too young for school you can arrange childcare or ask for the help of a trusted family member or friend for the day you need to leave.

  • If you have questions about custody our legal department may be able to help. 

Be Safe When You Live on Your Own
  • Change the locks on your doors as soon as you can. Put locks on all your doors and windows. 

  • Ask your local phone company (and your cell phone company) for an unlisted number. Sometimes this service is free.

  • Teach your children how to be safe, for times when you are not with them.

  • Make sure your children’s school or daycare provider knows who is allowed to pick up your children.

  • Tell your neighbors and landlord that your spouse or partner no longer lives with you. Ask them to call the police if they see your spouse/partner near your home.

  • Install a doorbell camera, or other security cameras if you believe that they may try to come to your home when you aren’t there. 

Get A Protective (Restraining) Order
  • Go to your county courthouse to file a petition for an order of protection and make sure to bring a photo ID and the address where your spouse/partner can be served with the order. 

  • Remember that the order will not be enforceable until your spouse/partner has been served with a copy 

  • Always keep a copy with you and make sure your local police department gets a copy  

  • Call the police if your spouse/partner violates the order by trying to communicate with you or by coming near you. 

  • Keep notes about any contacts, threats, messages, or letters your spouse/partner sends to you. If your spouse/partner leaves messages on your answering machine, save the messages.

  • Think of how to stay safe in case the police do not get to you right away.

  • Give copies of your protective order to everyone listed in the order and to family, friends, and neighbors who are willing to help you.

  • If you include your workplace in your order of protection you can give them a copy if you feel comfortable.

  • If you included your child’s school or daycare facility in the order of protection you should provide them with a copy of the order. 

Be Safe At Work and In Public
  • Tell the security personnel where you work. Give them a photo of the person you need protection from. 

  • Decide who else to tell at work about your situation. 

  • Ask someone at work to screen your telephone calls. 

  • When you leave work, have someone walk with you to your car, bus, or train. 

  • Do not take the same route home every day.

  • Think about what you would do if the person you need protection from approaches while you are getting to or from work. 

Your Safety and Your Emotional Health
  • If you are thinking about going back to a situation that could be abusive, talk with someone you trust about alternatives. 

  • Think positive thoughts about yourself. 

  • Read books, articles, and poems to help you feel stronger.

  • Decide who you can call to get the support you need.

  • Go to a support group. You will get support and learn about yourself, domestic violence, and relationships. 

What To Take With You When You Leave

Try to keep some things in your purse or wallet: 

  • Driver's license or ID

  • Social security card

  • Welfare ID

  • Passport or green card

  • Money

  • Checkbooks

  • Credit cards

  • ATM cards

  • Bankbooks

  • Bank account numbers

  • House and car keys

  • Phone charger 

If you have the time, take these things, too: 

  • Medications 

  • Medical, life, and auto insurance papers 

  • Divorce papers or marriage license

  • Immigration/legal residency papers

  • Court orders, restraining orders

  • Birth certificates for you and your children

  • Police reports or documentation of previous abuse

  • Lease or rental agreement, house deed

  • Medical and school records

  • Jewelry or small objects you can sell

  • Car registration and title (pink slip)

  • Family photos

  • Children’s clothing and small toys

  • Extra glasses or contact lenses 

Remember: These things are not as important as the lives of you and your children! 

Technology Safety Planning


Technology-enabled abuse is not some new form of abuse. It is simply the way familiar forms of abuse — stalking, harassment, threats, impersonation, etc. — are perpetrated via technologyVictim serving organizations, such as those in law enforcement, human services, education, healthcare and the military, are built to address these familiar forms of abuse.

Prioritize Safety 

  • Consider using a safer device: If you think that someone is monitoring your computer, tablet, or mobile device, try using a different device that the person hasn’t had physical or remote access to in the past, and doesn’t have access to now (like a computer at a library or a friend’s phone). 

  • Get more information: you can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 800-799-7233, the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 800-656-4673, or the Peace at Home Family Shelter Hotline at (479) 442-9811 to be connected with an advocate near you. 

  • Trust your instincts: If it seems like the person knows too much about you, they could be getting that information from a variety of sources, like monitoring your devices, accessing your online accounts, tracking your location, or gathering information about you online.

  • Strategically plan around your tech: When abusers misuse technology, it’s often a natural reaction to want to throw away devices or close online accounts to make it stop. However, some abusive individuals may escalate their controlling and dangerous behavior if they feel they’ve lost access to the victim. So before removing a hidden camera that you’ve found, or a GPS tracker, think through how the abuser may respond and plan for your safety. For example, some survivors choose to use a safer device for certain interactions, but also keep using the monitored device to collect evidence. 

Identify the Abuse 

  • Look for patterns: Narrowing down the potential source of technology can help you create a safety plan and to document the abuse.   

  • Document the incidents: Documenting a series of incidents can show police or the court a pattern of behavior that fits a legal definition of stalking or harassment. Documentation can also help you see if things are escalating and help you with safety planning. 

  • Report the incidents: You may also want to report the incidents to law enforcement or seek a protective order. If the harassment is online, you can also report it to the website or app where the harassment is happening. 

Steps to Increase Security 

  • Change passwords and usernames. 

  • Check your devices and settings. 

  • Get a new device. 

  • Protect your location.

  • Consider cameras and audio devices. 

Steps to Increase Privacy 

  • Protect your address. 

  • Limit the information you give out about yourself. 

  • Control your offline and online privacy

  • *Add digital safety resources:Digital Safety Resources

How Can You Support A Friend Or Loved One Experiencing Abuse?

You can provide help and support for a friend or loved one who is experiencing abuse. 


Express your concern. Accept that your friend is in a very difficult, scary situation. Let your friend know that the abuse is not their fault, you believe them, and you are concerned about their safety. Encourage your friend to express their feelings and get help. 

Helpful Tips:

  • Remember that it may be difficult for your friend to talk about it.

  • Respect your friend’s right to make decisions.

  • Offer to go with your friend when they seek help.

  • Understand that you cannot “fix” the situation.

  • Plan safe strategies with your friend, including:

    • Having a code word your friend can use to signal a need for immediate help.

    • Discussing the safest places in their home if the abuser becomes physically violent.
    • Leaving an "emergency kit" at your place that contains:
      • Clothing
      • Toiletries
      • Important documents

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