Close this search box.

Domestic Violence Safety Planning

Experiencing domestic violence is frightening. Designing a safety plan around your life and circumstances may help to make an unsafe situation more safe. Everyone’s experience and needs may be unique. 

Below are some safety planning tips that we at NYLAG put together. Please know you can reach out to us for assistance in safety planning, or for legal support.

  • Pack extra clothing; medication and prescriptions; copies of important documents like your passport, birth certificate, health insurance and public benefit cards, immigration documents and orders of protection; some money if you are able; and face mask. If you have children, make sure to include copies of their important documents, any medications, extra clothes, diapers, formula, and toys, if needed.
  • Stash this somewhere where it may look like a bag of laundry/unpacked purse; or leave it with a trusted friend/relative.
  • You can collect evidence, important documents, and contact information in an app or email address. Keep evidence of injuries/bruising, attacks, and photographs of important documents (passport, ID, immigration documents, health insurance information, prescriptions, doctor’s names and numbers, friend’s names and numbers, agencies names and numbers, orders of protection and police reports).
  • You can use an application such as Docusafe (https://www.techsafety.org/docusafe) or create a new email address that is unknown to your abuser. You can also cc a close friend or even your attorney.
  • If you do not have permanent immigration status, collect evidence of joint residence (lease agreement, tax returns, bank statements, mail with one or both parties’ name).
  • If you feel like an argument is escalating, move to a safer space in the home. Identify a room where there are no weapons within easy reach, such as the kitchen, or tight spaces where you can be easily injured, like the bathroom. Ideally, move to a room where there is more than one way to exit.
  • Minimize the harm. If you feel that violence against you 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.
  • Think about leaving before you have to. If you need to leave in an emergency, where will you go? Is there a place outside that is open 24/7? Is there a place that is always well populated, where you would feel safe? Is there a friend, family member, or neighbor where you can go and feel safe?
  • Think about how you will get to your safe space. What is the safest route to use? What is the route that your abuser is least likely to be able to find/follow?
  • Identify people in your life who could help you in an emergency. Create a safe word and define what it means (e.g. if I say I want pizza tonight, that means call the cops. If I say I want steak tonight, that means come pick me up now).
  • If you have children, practice your safety plan with your children and teach them how to call 911 in an emergency.
  • Shelters are open, accessible, and safe. All shelters have COVID-19 protocols and screenings in place. Call 1 800 621 HOPE (4673). TTY: 800-810-7444
  • The police are still responding to 911 calls and reports of domestic violence. If you feel like you are in immediate danger, you can call 911.
  • If you do not feel that calling the police is safe for you, there are other options. Reach out to speak with an attorney about your other legal options, such as an order of protection.
  • If you are experiencing intimate partner violence, the courts are open and we are here to help. Call or email us to schedule a consultation with an attorney.
  • If you have an order of protection, make copies. Keep one on you and leave others in places your frequent, if it is safe to do so (e.g. with your family, friends, or employer). Take digital copies or photographs of your orders and store them in your email or virtual go bag.
  • Legal services, social services, counselors, and advocates are still here to help.
  • Call or email to consult with a NYLAG attorney.
  • Call a Family Justice Center to get help with safety planning, applying for public benefits, counseling and supportive services, and referrals to educational programs.
    • NYC Family Justice Center, Bronx198 East 161st Street, 2nd Floor
    • NYC Family Justice Center, Brooklyn, 350 Jay Street, 15th Floor
      NYC Family Justice Center, Manhattan, 80 Centre Street, 5th Floor
    • NYC Family Justice Center, Queens, 26-02 82nd Avenue
    • NYC Family Justice Center, Staten Island, 126 Stuyvesant Place
  • 9-1-1: In case of an emergency at any time, please call 911, text if you can’t.
  • National Domestic Violence Hotline: The National Domestic Violence Hotline is still accessible 24/7. Please call them at 1-800-799-7233
  • National Human Trafficking Hotline: The National Human Trafficking Hotline is still accessible 24/7. Please call them at 1-888-373-7888 or text them at 233-733
  • Suicide Hotline: The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is still accessible 24/7. Please call them at 1-800-273-8255
  • Consider changing your locks. You may qualify for the Project SAFE program which can provide a professional locksmith to change your lock or cylinder for free. Call Project SAFE: 855-234-1042 or TDD 800-810-7444.
  • Consider changing your phone number or email address if that is safe for you to do.
  • Vary your routine; alter the way you get to and from work or school, both the route and the means (I.e. bus vs. Subway), change regularly scheduled appointments, etc.
  • If you have a protective order, keep a copy of it with you at all times, and, if you feel safe, inform friends, neighbors, apt/building management, employers, and school authorities that you have an order of protection in effect.
  • Consider renting a post office box or using the address of a friend for your mail. Be aware that if you want to keep your address confidential with the Court, you must request it, otherwise your address will be on the court documents given to the other party.
  • Alert neighbors and request that they call the police if they feel you may be in danger.
Help us provide free legal services to children and adults in need of a lawyer.
Join our mailing list. Get action alerts, updates, and special invites.
Scroll to Top