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  • Do you feel you must “walk on eggshells” to avoid upsetting your partner?
  • Does your partner put you down, call you names, or threaten you?
  • Does your partner continually criticize what you wear, what you say, how you act, and how you look?
  • Does your partner humiliate or make fun of you in public places and social situations?
  • Has your partner threatened to hurt you or the children if you leave?
  • Does your partner force you to have sex whether you want to or not?
  • Have you been repeatedly accused of flirting or having sex with others?
  • Does your partner restrict you from getting a job or going to school?
  • Do you ever explain away bruises, cuts, or other injuries as results of how “clumsy” you are?
  • Do you feel nervous or afraid for your safety when your partner becomes angry?
  • Are you afraid to disagree with your partner?
  • Are you frightened by your partner’s violence towards other people or animals?
  • Has your partner intentionally damaged your possessions?
  • Has your partner cut you off from family and friends or isolated you?
  • Are you afraid that if you left you would be attacked, harassed, or followed?
  • Does your partner make all the decisions or control the money?
  • Has your partner pushed, slapped, kicked, choked, restrained, or hurt you?
  • Are you afraid of your partner?

Power & Control Wheel

Deciding Whether to Stay or Leave

Only you can decide whether it would be best for you to stay or leave your domestic violence situation. We encourage you to consider your safety first and foremost when choosing whether to remain in your home or seek shelter elsewhere. Although you can’t control your partner’s violence, you do have a choice about planning for safety. You can decide for yourself if and when you will tell others that you have been abused or that you are still at risk. Friends, family, and co-workers can help

protect you if they know what is happening and what they can do to help.

If you decide to leave your situation, you will want to take certain items with you. Remember, your safety is top priority. If you need to leave without these items in order to be safe, do so. Some people give an extra copy of papers and an extra set of clothing to a friend just in case they have to leave quickly.

Other items to consider:

  • Identification
  • Children’s birth certificates
  • Your birth certificate
  • Social Security cards
  • School and vaccination records
  • Money
  • Checkbook, ATM card
  • Credit cards
  • Keys & Spare Keys – house/car/office
  • Driver’s license and registration
  • Medications
  • DHS Bridge Card / Paperwork
  • Work permits
  • Green card
  • Passport(s)
  • Divorce papers
  • Medical records – for all family members
  • Lease/rental agreement, house deed, mortgage payment book
  • Bank books
  • Insurance papers
  • Address book
  • Pictures
  • Jewelry
  • Children’s favorite toys and/or blankets
  • Items of special sentimental value
  • Important telephone numbers

Safety Planning

  • Download our Safety Planning Guide.
  • When an argument begins, try to move to a room or area that has access to an exit. Avoid a bathroom, kitchen, or anywhere near weapons.
  • Practice how to get out of your home. Identify which doors, windows, elevator, or stairway would be best.
  • Devise a signal or code word to use with your family, friends, and neighbors when you need the police.
  • Identify a neighbor you can tell about the violence. Ask that neighbor to call the police if they hear a disturbance coming from your home or a predetermined signal.
  • Decide and plan where you will go if you have to leave home (even if you don’t think you will need to). This should be a safe place from which you can call for further assistance.
  • Use your own instincts and judgment. You have the right to protect yourself until you are out of danger.
  • Always remember – you don’t deserve to be hit or threatened!
  • Open a savings account in your own name and start to establish or increase your independence.
  • Have a packed bag ready and keep it in a secret place that is easy to reach.
  • Leave money, an extra set of keys, copies of important documents, and extra clothes with someone you trust.
  • Determine who would be able to let you stay with them or lend you some money.
  • Keep S.A.F.E. Place’s 24-hour Crisis Hotline phone number 269-965-7233 close at hand, or better yet, memorize it and keep some change or a calling card on you at all times for emergency phone calls. If using a cell phone store our phone number as a different name, so your batterer cannot find it.
  • Remember to clear your call log/call history/text history
  • Review your safety plan as often as possible in order to plan the safest way to leave your batterer. Remember – leaving your batterer can be very dangerous!
  • Contact our legal advocate about obtaining a Personal Protection Order (PPO).
  • Change the locks on your doors as soon as possible. Buy additional lock and safety devices to secure your windows.
  • Discuss a safety plan with your children for when you are not with them.
  • Inform your children’s school, day care, etc. about who has permission to pick up your children.
  • Inform neighbors and landlord that your partner no longer lives with you and that they should call the police if they see your partner near your home.
  • If possible, obtain a P.O. Box and get an unlisted phone number.
  • Keep your Personal Protection Order with you at all times. (If you change your purse or wallet, that should be the first thing that goes in it or else get multiple copies.)
  • Call the police if your partner breaks the Personal Protection Order.
  • Think of alternative ways to keep safe if the police do not respond right away.
  • Inform family, friends, and neighbors that you have a Personal Protection Order in effect.
  • Document calls to the police, their responses, dates, times, etc.
  • Decide whom at work you will inform of your situation. This should include office or building security. (Provide a picture of your batterer if possible.)
  • Arrange to have someone screen your telephone calls if possible.
  • Devise a safety plan for when you leave work. Have someone escort you to your car, bus, or train. Use a variety of routes to go home if possible. Think about what you would do if something happened while going home. (i.e., in your car, on the bus, etc.)
  • If you are thinking of returning to a potentially abusive situation, discuss an alternative plan with someone you trust.
  • If you have to communicate with your partner, determine the safest way to do so.Have positive thoughts about yourself and be assertive with others about your needs.
  • Read books, articles, and poems to help you feel stronger.
  • Decide whom you can talk freely and openly with to give you the support you need.
  • Consider attending a domestic violence support group to gain support from others and learn more about you and the relationship.

Safety While Living with an Abusive Partner

When it is safe for you to do so, you might want to consider:

  • Try to get out or get help before any violence occurs.
  • When in danger, if possible, move to a room where you have access to an exit. Avoid the bathroom, kitchen, bedroom, or any place where there could be weapons.
  • If there are weapons in the house, try to remove them or lock them up.
  • Practice how to get out of your house safely. Identify which doors, windows, elevators, or stairways to use.
  • Have a bag packed and keep it at a relative’s or friend’s home so you can leave quickly.
  • Set a routine of walking the dog, getting a paper, or taking out the garbage so that it is normal for you to leave for a short period of time.
  • Teach your children to call 911.
  • Create a code word with your child(ren), family, friends, and neighbors to alert them to call 911 especially if they hear a disturbance in your home.
  • Plan with children. Plan a safe place for them. Reassure them that their job is to stay safe and not to protect you.
  • Trust your own instincts and judgment. If the situation is very dangerous, consider giving the assailant what they want to calm down. You have the right to protect yourself until you are out of danger.
  • Make extra house and car keys and hide them for emergencies.
  • Document events in a journal and keep it in a safe place.

Safety When Preparing to Leave

  • Open a savings account and/or credit card in your name to establish or increase your independence. Have bank statements sent to a safe address. Think of other ways you can increase your independence.
  • Get your own post office box. You can privately receive checks and letters to begin your independence.
  • Keep the shelter hotline number with you. Keep change or a calling card on you at all times for emergency phone calls.
  • If you don’t already have a cell phone for emergency 911 calls you can obtain one from S.A.F.E. Place (269.965.SAFE).
  • Determine who would be able to let you stay with them, lend you money, or someone you trust that would keep the following documents and items for you.

Important documents and items to take with you when preparing to leave

  • Personal Protection Order
  • Driver’s License or State ID Card
  • Social Security Card
  • Custody Papers, Divorce Decree, etc.
  • Medical Insurance Cards and Medical Records
  • Medications and Prescriptions
  • DHS Identification/Bridge Card
  • Birth Certificates
  • Pictures of Your Injuries
  • Checkbook
  • Credit Card
  • Lease, Rental Agreement or Mortgage Papers
  • Car Registration/Insurance
  • Health and Life Insurance Papers
  • School Records
  • House Keys and Car Keys
  • Cell Phone/Phone Calling Card
  • Clothes
  • Emergency Shelter Numbers
  • Any Other Papers you think you may need

Computer Use and Safety

  • There are hundreds of ways that computers record everything you do on the computer and on the Internet.
  • If you are in danger, please try to use a computer that someone abusive does not have direct access, or even remote (hacking) access to.
  • It might be safer to use a computer in a public library, at a community technology center (you can locate one at, at a trusted friend’s house, or an Internet Café.
  • If you think your activities are being monitored, they probably are. Abusers are often controlling and want to know your every move. You don’t need to be a computer programmer or have special skills to monitor someone’s computer activities– anyone can do it and there are many ways to monitor.
  • Computers can provide a lot of information about what you look at on the Internet, the e-mails you send, and other activities. It is not possible to delete or clear all computer “footprints”.
  • If you think you may be monitored on your home computer, you might consider no home Internet use or “safer” Internet surfing. Example: If you are planning to flee to California, don’t look at classified ads for jobs and apartments, bus tickets, etc. for California on a home computer or any computer an abuser has physical or remote access to. Use a safer computer to research an escape plan.


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