Safety Plan for a Friend or Relative
Safety Planning for a Friend or Relative Who is Being Abused by an Intimate Partner
1. You are there for them. Don’t judge or blame the victim.
2. Do not simply tell the victim that they need to leave. Instead help them develop a plan.
3. Do not use this an opportunity to verbally bash the abuser, as this could drive victim away and make them feel like they need to defend the abuser. Remember the victim genuinely loves their partner despite the abuse.
4. Listen. Become a confidant for the victim. This could be important if they ask you to be a witness.
5. Assure confidentiality.
6. Ask them what the situation is like for them.
7. Let them know:
That you are concerned for their safety
The abuse is not their fault
Even if their partner apologizes for the abuse, that does not guarantee that the abuse will stop
Alcohol or drugs is not a reason for abuse
There is a good chance the abuse will get worse and could become fatal
They are not alone
8. Be aware that the abuser may snoop (check phone records, messages, emails, etc.). Be as discreet as possible.
9. If it is safe for you to do so, offer to let them keep some emergency items at your house (e.g. money, clothes, credit cards, ID, social security card, cell phone, prescriptions). The abuser may find these things and hide them to keep them from leaving.
10. If there are children involved:
Children exposed to violence and abuse suffer a great deal of trauma and the effects are life altering.
Unless they have court permission, fleeing to another state with the children may cause them to lose custody
Talk to an attorney
Instill in the children that abuse is wrong and should not be tolerated
Teach the children how and when to contact the police
Remind them that abusers use children to control their victims and guilt them into staying in unhealthy environments
11. If they do not have children:
Let them know it is easier to get out of a bad relationship when children are not in the picture. Having children almost always make the abuser more possessive
The abuser may try to hide contraceptives or force them to have unprotected sex with him in order to get them pregnant and force them to stay.
12. Encourage the victim to document any and everything that happened.
13. If they are physically abused, encourage them to seek medical attention, take photographs of the injuries, and date the pictures.
14. Take pictures of damaged property and date the images.
15. Give the victim the number of the local domestic violence agency or the National Domestic Violence Hotline (1-800-799-7233).
16. Be aware that members of clergy can be helpful and some can be harmful.
17. Tell them that if they decide to leave, they should not tell their abuser or anyone else who may tell the abuser. If the abuser finds out that they are leaving this can be extremely dangerous, as most domestic violence homicides occur when the victim is attempting to leave or has left the abusive situation.
18. If the victim does flee, DO NOT DISCLOSE THEIR LOCATION to anyone.
19. If you have an indication that the victim is suicidal get them help immediately.
20. Download a safety plan from someone else’s computer.
American Bar Association:
National Domestic Violence Hotline: