Safety Planning

Emergency services are designed to assist victims of domestic violence and sexual assault immediately following the initial crisis.

Hotlines: 24-Hours, 7 Days a Week

  • Domestic violence and sexual assault in Mercer County: 609.394.9000
  • Womanspace is friendly and available to the deaf community. Deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals can text us at 609.619.1888
  • New Jersey Statewide Domestic Violence Hotline: 800.572.SAFE (7233)
  • Domestic Violence Victim Response Teams
  • Sexual Assault Support Advocates
  • Shelter: Confidential, secure, short-term emergency shelter for victims of domestic violence

Womanspace Programs & Services

What To Do If You Are Sexually Assaulted
  • Go to a safe place
  • If possible, do not bathe, shower, douche, go to the bathroom, change clothing, eat, drink or smoke
  • Get immediate medical attention for possible injuries, sexually transmitted diseases and pregnancy
  • Consider calling the police
  • Call Womanspace at 609.394.9000 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for support and information

No Assault is Ever Your Fault

Thinking ahead may help prevent future assaults. For many victims, having a safety plan has actually saved their lives. Think about what you have tried in the past and whether or not it has worked for you.

Safety Planning

Always remember: You do not deserve to be threatened or hurt.

  • If you feel an argument coming, try to stay in a room or area that has access to an exit. Do not stay in a bathroom, kitchen or anywhere near weapons.
  • Practice how to get out of your home safely. Identify which doors, windows, elevator or stairwell would be best for getting away.
  • Have a bag packed and hidden someplace safe in case you need to leave your home.
  • Identify a neighbor you can tell about the violence and ask that they call the police if they hear a disturbance coming from your home.
  • If you have children living with you at home, talk to them about what you want them to do if violence erupts. Do you want them to call the police? Do you want them to leave the house and go to a neighbor’s house?
  • Devise a code word to use with your children, family, friends and neighbors when you need the police.
  • Decide and plan where you will go if you have to leave home…even if you don’t think you will need to.
  • Trust your own instincts and judgment.
Safety When Preparing to Leave
  • Open a savings account in your own name or hide away some money somewhere safe to establish or increase your independence. Think of other ways that you can increase your independence.
  • Leave money, an extra set of keys, copies of important documents and extra clothes with someone you trust so you can leave quickly if you need to.
  • Determine who would be able to let you stay with them or lend you some money.
  • Keep the shelter phone numbers with you or memorize them: 609.394.9000 or 800.572.SAFE. Keep some change or a calling card on you at all times for emergency calls.
  • Obtain an emergency 911 cell phone from Womanspace or your local domestic violence agency.
  • Review your safety plan as often as possible in order to plan the safest way to leave. Remember: Leaving an abusive partner can be the most dangerous time.

Safety in Your Own Home
  • Change the locks on your doors as soon as possible, even if the abuser has moved out and returned the keys to you or the police. The keys may have been copied by the abuser. Buy additional locks and safety devices to secure your windows.
  • If you have children at home, discuss a safety plan with them for when you are not together. Play the game “what if.”
  • Inform your children’s school, day care, etc. about who has permission to pick up your children.
  • Inform neighbors and your landlord that your partner no longer lives with you and they should call the police if they see the abuser near your home.

Safety with a Restraining Order
  • Keep your restraining order with you at all times. Have extra copies in your car, at work, at home and with someone you trust.
  • Call the police if your partner breaks the restraining order and file a complaint.
  • Think of alternative ways to keep safe in case police cannot respond right away.
  • Inform family, friends and neighbors that you have a restraining order in effect.

Safety on the Job & in Public
  • Decide who at work you will inform of your situation. This should include office or building security (provide a picture of your abuser, 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 (such as in your car, on the bus, etc.).

Your Safety & Emotional Health
  • 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.
  • Think positive thoughts about yourself and be assertive about your needs.
  • Read books, articles and poems to help you feel stronger.
  • Talk freely and openly with someone you trust and who can give you the support you need and deserve.
  • Attend a support group for women or victims for at least two weeks. This allows you to gain support from others and learn more about yourself and your relationship with your abuser.

Copy adapted from a pamphlet developed by the Domestic Violence Project, Inc., Kenosha, WI


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