What is Safety Planning for Intimate Partner Violence (IPV)?

Intimate partner violence (IPV)  occurs between two adults and includes verbal, emotional, psychological, or sexual harm, or stalking behaviors by a current or former partner. If you feel that you, or a loved one, may be in a potentially violent relationship, it is important to plan for the safety of the person, children, pets, and property. A safety plan is a personalized, practical plan that includes ways to enhance safety while in a relationship, planning to leave, or after you leave. This safety planning guide will help you think about things you can do to stay safe. For more information or assistance with safety planning, please contact Operation Foxhole, The National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233), thehotline.org,  or your local VA IPV Coordinator. 

Creating a Safety Plan

We have created a  safety planning tool for you to print and use. You will be asked a series of questions to help you identify your safety options. You can use this tool on your own, or you can use it with a friend or an adult you trust. When completed you will have a printable version of your individualized safety plan that you can refer to whenever you need it. Click Below to Download: 

Be Mindful

For this safety plant to be effective, the information you enter must be accurate.

Once you have completed your Safety Plan, make sure you keep it in an accessible location and consider sharing it with a person you trust. Remember, you know your experience better than anyone else; trust your judgment. 


Safety At Home

It is important to realize, infrequent IPV can escalate in frequency and severity.  Be aware of triggers and red flags within your partner that indicate a violent incident may occur. In the event of a violent situation, avoid rooms with no outside doors and rooms where weapons may be located. If you live in an apartment, Consider telling a trusted neighbor about the violence and ask them to call the police if they hear suspicious noises coming from your home. Using a journal to record things that happen at home and keeping it in a safe place is a good form of documentation.

Click here to download a Safety Plan-Securing Your Home.

Click here to download a Safety Planning - Leaving Your Abuse

Ready your Ruck

Having a bag complete with your personal safety tools and resources at the “ready” will allow for a swift exit and safety resourcing.  Keep your Ruck in a safe location such as: In your car, neighbors, friend, or coworker. Each Emergency Ruck should include the following items:

  • Identification and vital documents such as a copy of your military ID, Social Security Card, Birth Certificates, Passports, Marriage License, DD214, and Insurance cards. 

  • Extra set of Keys to your Car, Home, and Safety Deposit Box.

  • Important Phone Numbers and Safety Plan 

  • Extra Clothing

  • Cash, Money Cards, Checkbook

  • Prepaid Cell Phone

  • If you have children: include important phone numbers for schools, pediatricians, and care providers. Teach your children a codeword that signals them to call 911.


Safety Planning For Children

It is important to be mindful of our children’s mental health. As a parent/caregiver we can assure the child/ren that violence is not OK, and they are not at fault. Have an open conversation with your child/ren about what to do during a violent event or if they think violence is about to occur. Make sure children know multiple escape routes from your home and how to call for help from a safe location. Talk to children about not intervening to protect you and how to keep themselves safe. Remind the child/ren, it is ok to put their safety first. If you have a Protection Order, make sure to provide those documents to the schools and child care centers. 


Financial Safety 

Considerations when planning your Financial Safety include:

  • Initiate your own bank accounts and store money there in case of an emergency.

  • Require your bank to assign a password to the account for withdrawals

  • Change your passwords/PIN frequently

Leaving the Relationship

Once you have decided to leave the relationship be sure to reach out to trusted resources for assistance. Plan if possible, be ready to leave an abusive partner by using the Safety Planning Guide provided. 

If the abuser has been removed from the home, take additional steps to ensure safety:

  • Change the locks, add deadbolt locks

  • Add motion detection lights near all entrances

  • Add security cameras at all entrances

  • Be aware of your patterns. Change when you go to work, dropoff/pick up children from daycare...all of these will make it less predictable to a potential stalker. 

  • Consider a Protection Order

  • Contact an Attorney to assist in legal matters in both criminal and civil cases.


Keeping Your Address Safe

Most states have integrated a program called Safe At Home (SAH). SAH is a statewide address confidentiality program administered by the Office of the Secretary of State. Safe at Home is designed to help people who fear for their safety maintain a  confidential address. Many times program participants are survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking.

When someone enrolls in Safe at Home, they are assigned a PO Box address that they can use as their legal address. In most states, all public and private entities must accept a participant’s assigned address and a participant cannot be required to disclose their real address. This allows a program participant to go about his or her daily life without leaving traces of where they can typically be located, such as their residential address, a school address, or an employment address. This safety measure is an attempt to keep their aggressor from locating them.

Because program participants use a PO Box address assigned to them, Safe at Home provides a mail forwarding service. First Class Mail is forwarded to a participant’s home address. The participant’s real address remains under security with the Safe at Home office. In addition to being the participant's agent to receive mail, the Office of the Secretary of State is a participant's agent to receive service of process (legal paper

If your state does not participate here are some other tips you can use to keep your address safe: 

  • Use a PO Box at a neighboring post office for all mail and package deliveries.

  • Arrange for all pickups/drop-offs to occur at a public location 

  • Remove personal address from all checks and business accounts

  • Remove personal information from social media platforms 


Obtaining a Protective Order

When leaving an abusive partner you may consider filing for a Protection Order otherwise known as “OFP or MPO” Advocates at Operation Foxhole can assist with completing the appropriate documents for your state. Once you have secured a Protection Order, make sure to keep it with you at all times. Provide copies to local law enforcement agencies, child care providers/school, employer, and a safe family member or friend. If copies are lost, you may obtain more at the local courthouse’s Admin office. It is vital that you notify the police, your attorney, or the courts if the former partner has violated the order.


Resource Apps

The MyPlan website and app provide discreet self-assessment, information, and safety planning resources. Get yours on AppStore or Google Play. https://www.myplanapp.org/