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Safety planning

  • Safety planning is thinking about things you can do to be safer when living with violence or abuse
  • The best way to make a safety plan is with the help of a support service
  • Trusted friends and family members can also play a role, as well as advocates for older people and people with disability
  • If you would like support with making a safety plan, you can contact 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or through our online chat service

What is safety planning?

You can make a simple safety plan for yourself, with help from a friend or someone in your family. You can also contact a support service for help making a detailed safety plan. Every plan is different as every person has different needs. It’s a good idea to create a new safety plan as things change, for example if you move house or leave your relationship.

If you are making a safety plan for yourself, you will already have good ideas about things you can do when you feel unsafe. These might be as simple as contacting a friend when there is violence where you live. You can start your safety plan by writing these ideas down. Keep your plan somewhere that no one else will see it. You might choose to share your safety plan with a friend or other support person. Let them know you may be calling them if you feel unsafe at home.

Support services can help you think about actions you can take when you feel unsafe. Contacting a support service to make a safety plan is the best place to start if you are living with sexual assault, domestic or family violence.

Staying safe does not mean changing your behaviour so that someone doesn’t get angry. You are never responsible for another person’s violence.

How can I support someone with safety planning?

For someone living with violence or abuse, having the support of a friend or family member can be one of the best ways to increase safety. If you are a support person, start by listening. The other person knows their own situation best and will be able to tell you about things they are already doing to keep safe. Remember not to judge or make decisions for them. 'Just leaving' is not always a safe option. In fact immediately after a separation is the time of greatest risk of violence. Work with the person you are supporting to make a plan that meets their needs.

Support services, like 1800RESPECT, are also available to help family and friends as well as workers supporting someone affected by violence.

To learn more about making a safety plan, watch the video 'How to make a plan to look after yourself'.

Domestic and family violence: How to make a plan to look after yourself

11 NOV 2014

Safety planning checklist

  • This checklist suggests some of the things you might want to include in your safety plan
  • Talk to a support service for more ideas on keeping yourself and your children safe
  • The best way to make a safety plan is with the help of a support service

Safety at home

  • Speak to neighbours you know and trust. Ask them to call the police on 000 if they hear violence or abuse
  • If you are in assisted living, speak to a carer or other person you trust about what is happening
  • If you have children, help them to know the warning signs of danger. Visit Children and violence to find out more
    • Children should be able to discuss, plan and practice steps they can take to be safer at home when there is violence or abuse
    • Children need lots of affection and care when they are exposed to violence or abuse in their home
  • You may have mandatory reporting responsibilities if children are at risk of harm. Visit Reporting and protection to find out more.
  • Have a safe place to go if you need to leave
  • In your wallet or mobile phone keep a list of important contacts you can call on in an emergency:
    • Local taxi services
    • Crisis accommodation centre
    • Phone number of the local police station
  • Download the Daisy app to your mobile phone to connect to local services
  • Learn how to increase your safety when you are using technology, like mobile phones or social media. Visit Technology and safety to find out more.
  • If possible, have a spare mobile phone with prepaid credit. This will mean you can contact support people and services without being monitored through phone bills or call logs.
  • Pack an escape bag in case you need to leave the house quickly
  • Have an escape plan ready for when you feel that it’s not safe to stay where you are

Making an escape plan

  • Plan and practice the quickest way to leave where you are
  • Have a small escape bag ready with keys, money and other important things
  • Leave spare keys and copies of important papers with a family member, friend or someone you trust
  • Let a trusted person know that you may be calling on them if you have to leave quickly. Some people have a code word they agree to use. That way you can call even if the perpetrator can hear you.
  • If you have any mobility issues or disability arrange in advance for a friend or other support person to come straight away if you ring or text them
  • If you plan to leave and are worried about your pet, the RSPCA may be able to help with their Safe Bed for Pets program. Contact your local RSPCA to see if they have a program in your area.

Safety after leaving a violent situation

  • Look at ways to increase security at home, like outdoor lights, extra window or door locks, or gates, if you can
  • If possible, park your car on the street instead of in the driveway so you can't be blocked in
  • Consider changing your mobile phone number and setting it to 'private'. Use email if you need to stay in contact with the perpetrator. This is also an easier way to keep a record of your conversations.
  • Get a PO Box for important mail if the perpetrator has or could get access to your home or letter box
  • If you see the perpetrator, get into a public or busy place as soon as possible
  • After leaving, try to change your normal routines. This could be catching different trains or buses, leaving home or work at different hours, shopping in different places.
  • Talk to a domestic and family violence service, a community lawyer or the police about getting a protection order if you don’t already have one. Visit Violence and the law to find out more.
  • Tell your employer of any protection orders that prevent the abuser from coming near your work. Keep a copy of your order at work or in your bag

To learn more about keeping kids safe, watch the video 'Domestic and family violence: children’s safety'.

Domestic and family violence: Children's safety

11 NOV 2014

Collecting evidence

  • It can be a good idea to keep a record of things that happen between you and any abusive or threatening person
  • This can be used as evidence if you ever need to make a police report, get a protection order, or seek custody of children
  • Having any important conversations through email or text message can help to keep a record of what has been said

Keeping a record

It’s a good idea to keep a record of abusive or frightening things that happen. This can help with protection orders or child custody cases. Make sure to keep this record in a safe place where it won’t be found or destroyed by the abusive person.

Evidence of violence or abuse might include:

  • A diary of abusive or worrying things that have happened
  • Photos of physical injuries or damage to things that you own
  • Copies of digital communication like emails and text messages — it’s a good idea to have important conversations that you want to remember the details of through emails. This might include conversations about children, money or abusive incidents that have happened. It’s much easier to keep a record of these things when they are written down.
  • Bank statements or things to do with money, including money owed to you or child support
  • Contact made when there is a protection order in place
  • Calendar of events that have happened, or missed events (such as child access)

For more information about evidence collection, you can download useful resources from the SmartSafe and TechSafety websites. These resources have been made to help women who are experiencing violence or abuse to keep a record of things that have happened.