A project of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office on Women's Health

Skip Navigation

Womens Health logo

Violence Against Women

divider line

Safety planning for abusive situations

escape

Click the red escape button above to immediately leave this site if your abuser may see you reading it.

If you are in an abusive relationship, it is important to create a safety plan. Domestic violence advocates and teen dating abuse advocates are people who are trained to help you create a safety plan. Advocates can:

  • Figure out ways for you to leave an abuser
  • Discuss how to deal with emergencies
  • Suggest safe places to go, such as a shelter or the home of a friend or family member where your abuser might not look
  • Help you learn about a court order of protection, which requires your abuser to stay away from you
  • Suggest services and provide support

Call a help hotline to find advocates. You can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 800-799-SAFE (7233) or TDD 800-787-3224. You can call the National Teen Dating Abuse Helpline at 866-331-9794 or TDD 866-331-8453.

Abused women are not necessarily safe just because they leave an abuser. In fact, sometimes the danger is greatest right after leaving. Read our section on domestic abuse to learn more about ways to protect yourself and your children. Once you have a new home, learn ways to make it safer with locks and other security measures.

If you are leaving an abusive situation, take your children and, if possible, your pets. Put together the items listed below. Hide them someplace where you can get them quickly, or leave them with a friend. If you are in immediate danger, though, leave without these items.

Return to top

Safety packing list

Safety packing list

You can print out our Safety Packing List (PDF, 135 KB) to make sure you have important items with you if you leave.

Identification for yourself and your children

  • Birth certificates
  • Social Security cards (or numbers written on paper if you can't find the cards)
  • Driver's license
  • Photo identification or passports
  • Welfare benefits card
  • Green card

Important papers

  • Marriage certificate
  • Divorce papers
  • Custody orders
  • Legal protection or restraining orders
  • Health insurance papers and medical cards
  • Medical records for all family members
  • Children's school records
  • Investment papers/records and account numbers
  • Work permits
  • Immigration papers
  • Rental agreement/lease or house deed
  • Car title, registration, and insurance information
  • Records of police reports you have filed or other evidence of abuse

Money and other ways to get by

  • Cash
  • Credit cards
  • ATM card
  • Checkbook and bankbook (with deposit slips)
  • Jewelry or small objects you can sell

Keys

  • House
  • Car
  • Safety deposit box or Post Office box

Ways to communicate

  • Phone calling card*
  • Cellphone*
  • Address book

Medications

  • At least one month's supply for all medicines you and your children are taking
  • A copy of any prescriptions

Things to help you cope

  • Pictures
  • Keepsakes
  • Children's small toys or books

* Don't share a calling card or cellphone plan with an abuser, because they can be used to find you. And if you already have a shared card or phone plan, try not to use them after you've left.

Return to top

More information on Safety planning for abusive situations

Explore other publications and websites

Connect with other organizations

Content last updated: May 18, 2011.

Resources last updated: May 18, 2011.

Return to top