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Individuals in interpersonal violence-related situations can struggle with what safety means to them and how to gain a sense of safety. Safety planning is one of the ways that someone can explore what they need to feel safe. Below are some examples of safety plans that can be adapted and explored based on individual needs.
Why do I need a safety plan?
If you are in a relationship that is hurting you and/or you have experienced interpersonal violence in any form, it's important for you to know that abuse is not your fault. When involved in an abusive relationship, the victim is often made to feel unsafe in a multitude of ways: physically, emotionally, financially and so on. Having a written plan offers you a way to regain a sense of personal safety and/or options regarding what you plan to do if they you in danger, confronted by an abuser, attempt to leave a relationship, etc.
What is a safety plan?
A safety plan is a guide specific to your life that will assess your current situation and help keep you safe. It helps you plan safe ways to navigate campus and your living situation. It also includes resources, including phone numbers and places to go if abuse occurs.
Important reminders when making a safety plan:
Once completed, keep it in a location that is safe but is also easily accessible: with a friend, in a box with a lock, on your phone, with a family member or in a safe. Certain things may not apply to you so it’s okay to leave them blank.
The cycle of abuse shows the continual pattern of violence that occurs in abusive relationships. Abusive relationships go through stages, and the length of time in each stage can vary. It can be very difficult to break the cycle once it begins.
Cycle of abuse
- Tensions building: Tensions increase, breakdown of communication, victime becomes fearful and feels the need to placate the abuser.
- Incident: Verbal, emotional and physical abuse. Anger, blaming and arguing. Threats and intimidation.
- Reconciliation: Abuser apologizes, gives excuses, blames the victim, denies the abuse happened or says it wasn't as bad as the victime claims.
- Calm: Incident is "forgotten," no abuse is taking place. The "honeymoon" phase.