Transcript of "D1 sponsorship breakdown and domestic violence formatted_safety plan handout"
SAFETY PLANNING FOR IMMIGRANT WOMEN
As a settlement worker, you may need to discuss safety planning with immigrant women
who are experiencing domestic violence or who have just left an abusive relationship.
This handout will help you discuss strategies with a woman that can help make her safer.
This handout does not include every possible thing a woman can do to increase her
safety. Instead, it is a tool to help you have a conversation about safety issues with your
clients. The handout is written directly for women in abusive situations but you may need
to help the woman think about which suggestions would be useful in her particular
circumstances. Some suggestions may not work for her, and the two of you may think of
other helpful strategies for safety together.
A Note to the Woman Experiencing Abuse
Sometimes if you have an abusive partner, you are not yet ready or able to leave the
relationship. There are things that you can do to try to increase your safety while you are
still living with your abusive partner. There are also things that you can teach your
children to increase their safety. If you decide to leave your partner, there are important
steps you should take to ensure your safety and your children’s safety , both at the
moment when you leave your partner and afterward. This document is just a sample of
things that you can do to increase your safety and that of your children. Which strategies
are right for you depend on your personal situation. You should consider discussing
safety planning with a community worker (such as shelter or immigrant settlement
worker) and try to call the police if your partner is hurting you.
Ways to Make You Safer While You are Still Living with Your Abusive Partner
• Tell people you trust about the abuse.
◦ Make a list of phone numbers to call in an emergency
• Be ready to call 911 if you or your children are in danger.
◦ Make up a code word to use with your children, family or friends when you need the
• Practice how to get out of your home safely.
• If it seems like your partner is about to hurt you, try to be in a room or area that has a
phone and a way out.
• If possible, avoid the bathroom, kitchen, garage, a room without an outside door, or
anywhere near weapons like knives
• If the situation is very serious, consider agreeing with your partner or giving him what he
wants, to protect your own safety.
• Call the police at 911 if you can. Tell them you have been assaulted and leave the phone
off the hook after your call
• Make as much noise as possible (set off the fire alarm, break things, turn up the stereo or
TV) so that neighbors may call the police for you
A Safety Plan for Your Children
• Teach your children that it is not their job to keep their mom safe. Children need
to know that the most important thing they can do is to be safe themselves.
• Teach your children to Leave the area in the house where abuse is taking place
• Teach them to go to a safe room in the house, with a lock on the door and a phone
• Teach your children to call 911 from a phone where the abusive parent cannot see
◦ If this is not possible, they can use a cell phone or neighbor’s phone to call for
• Practice with your children how to tell the 911 operator their full name, address
(including concession and lot number for rural areas), phone number, and that
“someone’s hurting my mom”
• Teach them to leave the phone off the hook so the 911 operator cannot call back,
putting you and your child at risk from the abusive parent
• Teach older children how to reach a safe place outside the home, like a neighbor’s
house, where you can meet them later.
• Teach your children how to make a collect call to you and to a trusted friend if
your partner takes the children
Recommendations if You Plan to Leave an Abusive Relationship
• Open a bank account in your own name, with no phone calls or statements
coming to your home
• Save a little money at a time if you can do so without being noticed
• Leave the following items with someone you trust, such as a friend or your
◦ copies of important documents such as passport, birth certificate and
immigration papers for all family members
◦ copies of school and vaccination records
◦ your driver’s license and registration
◦ prescriptions and medical records for you and your children
◦ marriage certificate, divorce papers, custody papers, court orders, restraining
◦ lease/rental agreement
◦ address/telephone book
◦ credit cards and bank cards
◦ spare clothing, cash, extra set of keys
• Have a telephone card, spare change and shelter numbers available for urgent
• Keep a diary of abusive incidents if you can do this safely
• Get family and immigration law advice about your situation
• Figure out who would let you stay with them or lend you some money
Recommendations for Safety at the Moment You Leave
• When you leave, if possible, take:
◦ Your children
◦ all proof of your and your children’s identity, such as passport, birth
certificate, immigration documents, etc.
◦ Purse with credit cards, bank card, bank books/statements/checkbooks, spare
keys, driver’s license and registration, insurance documents, address and
telephone book, photo of spouse, emergency money
◦ Personal medications
◦ Pay stubs, copy of apartment lease, etc.
◦ Marriage/divorce/immigration papers, and any other family or criminal court
◦ Any proof of the abuse such as threatening notes, taped phone messages, etc
◦ Jewelry and clothing
◦ Your children’s favorite toys
◦ Pets if possible
• Leave a note saying that you have taken the children and that you will get in touch
to make arrangements for the children’s father to see them
• Go stay at a safe place where your abuser will not think to look for you, such as a
friend’s home, a shelter, or somewhere in another town or city
• If You Have to Return to the Home You Shared with Your Abuser to collect your
belongings, take the police with you
Recommendations to Increase Your Safety After You Leave
• Tell neighbors and your landlord that your partner no longer lives with you and
that they should call the police if they see him near your home
• Shop at different stores and shopping malls than you did when with your partner,
and at different hours
• Rehearse a safety plan with your children for when you are not with them
• Use a different bank or branch than you did when with your partner, and bank at
• Consider changing your dentist, doctor, and other professional services you use
• Inform your children's school or day care about who has permission to pick them
• Give the school or daycare a copy of your restraining order if you have one
• Change your telephone number, make sure it is unlisted, and only share it with
people you trust
• Block your number when making calls
• Do not put your name in your apartment building directory
• Change the locks on your doors, windows and garage
• Teach your children not to open the door without your permission
• Consider getting a cellular phone and preprogram numbers of people to call
• Move your furniture around differently so your former partner may bump into it,
warning you that he is in the house
• Put your kitchen utensils and knives in the cupboards so they are not as accessible
• If you live in an apartment, check the floor clearly when getting off the elevator
• Buy rope ladders for escape from upper floors
• If you have a balcony, consider putting wire around it
• Replace wooden doors with steel/metal doors if possible
• Consider getting a dog
Recommendations to Increase Your Safety If You Have a Restraining Order:
• Keep your restraining order with you at all times.
• Leave extra copies at work, with a friend, in your car, etc.
• Call the police if your partner violates the court order
• Think of ways to keep safe if the police do not respond right away
• Let family, friends and neighbors know that you have a restraining order in effect
Recommendations to Increase Your Safety When Leaving Work
• Walk with someone to your car
• Scan the parking lot
• Walk around your car, look under the hood and check if anything has been
• Remember to keep your car seats forward, so you know if someone is hiding in
• If your partner is following you, drive to a place where there are people to support
• If you have underground parking at work, park across the street
• If you are walking, take a route where there are lots of people
• Change the patterns of when you arrive and leave work and the routes you take
This document is adapted from the following:
• Community Legal Education Ontario. Do You Know a Woman Who is Being
Abused: A Legal Rights Handbook (Toronto: Community Legal Education
Ontario, 2008), online: Community Legal Education Ontario
• Woman Abuse Council of Toronto. Safety Planning In Situations Of Woman
• Peel Committee Against Woman Abuse. Creating a Safety Plan. April 2006.