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How to create a domestic violence safety plan

If you're in a domestic violence situation, having a safety plan could help reduce the changes of you or someone you love getting hurt.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — If you are in a domestic violence situation and you cannot immediately remove yourself from it, you need to have a plan in place to reduce the chance of harm to yourself or your loved ones. Or, if you do have an opportunity to leave, you need to make sure that you have what you need to live apart from your abuser.

The National Center for Biotechnology Information and the National Domestic Violence Hotline (through the National Center for Victims of Crime) have resources on creating a safety plan. 

RELATED: 'You are not alone' | Television anchor shares personal domestic violence story

Here are some of the tips they suggest: 

For yourself: 

  • Avoid arguments in small rooms or rooms without access to an outside door.  
  • Avoid alcohol and drugs that decrease the ability to protect yourself and think logically.  
  • Ask friends/neighbors to call the police if they hear suspicious noises. 
  • Keep weapons like guns and knives locked away and as inaccessible as possible. 
  • If violence is unavoidable, make yourself a small target. Dive into a corner and curl up into a ball with your face protected and arms around each side of your head, fingers entwined. 
  • Try not to wear scarves or long jewelry that could be used to strangle you. 
  • Install safety devices, such as security cameras, extra locks, and smoke detectors, in your home. 

If you are able to leave or need to escape: 

  • Develop escape routes through doors, windows, and fire escapes. 
  • Practice those escape routes when you are able. 
  • Make a habit of backing the car into the driveway and keeping it fueled. Keep the driver’s door unlocked and others locked — for a quick escape. 
  • Create several plausible reasons for leaving the house at different times of the day or night. 
  • Keep any evidence of physical abuse, including taking pictures of injuries. 
  • Keep a journal of all violent incidents, noting dates, events, and threats made. If possible, keep the journal in a safe place. 
  • Make sure you have the following items when you leave: 
    • Identification (driver’s license, social security card, birth certificate) 
    • Legal papers (protective order, lease agreement, medical records) 
    • Emergency numbers (police department, friends or family members) 
    • Medications 
    • Keys (house, car, safety deposit box) 
    • Clothes and toys (for children) 

For children: 

  • Arrange a code word for children or friends, so they know when to call for help  
  • Teach children to leave the home if possible when things begin to escalate, and where they can go 
  • Teach children to use the phone to call police  
  • Tell your children that violence is never right, even when someone they love is being violent. Tell them that neither you, nor they, are at fault or are the cause of the violence and that when anyone is being violent, it is important to stay safe.  

For pets: 

  • Bring extra provisions if you are able to leave 
  • Arrange housing with a friend, family members, or veterinarian 
  • If that isn’t possible, the Kentucky Humane Society has a SafeHaven program to help domestic violence victims as they look for shelter. 
  • Take steps to prove ownership of your pet (get them vaccinated and register them under your name). 
  • If you have to leave your pet with an abusive partner, try to ask for help from law enforcement or animal control. 

You can find additional resources and more information at the links below.

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