How to Escape an Abusive Relationship - Safety and Escape Plan

Steps to get out of an abusive relationship

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Have you started thinking about how you can plan your own safety and happiness? If you wait for your abusive partner to change and try harder to please them, it won't work. Find out about the resources available in your area for people experiencing domestic violence. When you are safe and the abusive partner is not present, then call the support line 1440. Talk about what is happening to you, learn about your rights and explore your options to protect yourself.

Safety plan with an abusive partner

  • Determine the degree of physical strength of your partner so that you can calculate the risk of your own physical danger, as well as that of your children.
  • Find safe places in the house where there are ways to escape. If necessary, try to transfer to these points.
  • Avoid running towards the places where the children are, as your partner can hurt them too.
  • If abuse is unavoidable, try to make yourself a small target. Curl up in a corner of the house like a ball with your face shielded and your hands covering each side of your head and your fingers together.
  • If possible, have access to a phone at all hours of the day and know helpline numbers. If your life is in danger call the police.
  • Talk to people you trust (friends, neighbors, relatives) about the situation and develop a plan in which ways you will ask for help.
  • Teach your children how to get help. Instruct them not to get involved when abuse is in progress. Find a code word for the kids that will mean they should get help or leave the house.
  • Tell your children that violence is never justified, even if someone they love is violent. Tell them that neither you nor they are to blame or the cause of the violence they receive and that when someone is violent, it is important to protect themselves.
  • Practice how to escape safely. Practice with your kids.
  • Create a plan for what you will do in case the children tell the partner/spouse or if the partner/spouse finds out about your plan.
  • Keep guns and knives locked in places as far out of reach as possible.
  • Get into the habit of parking the car where you can escape and always have fuel.
  • Try not to wear scarves or long jewelry that could be used to strangle or injure you.
  • Create several possible occasions to leave the house, different times of the day and night.

Safety plan with children

If you are in an abusive relationship, a safety plan should include ways your children can protect themselves when there is violence in the home. It is important to remember that if the violence starts to escalate you should avoid running towards the children because your partner/spouse may hurt them too.

Domestic violence safety plan

Teach children when and how to call for immediate action (199 or 112)
Guide children to leave the house if possible when violence starts to escalate and let them know how to get to a safe place.
Find a code word that you can tell them when they need to leave the house in an emergency and make sure they know not to tell others what that word means.

At home:

  • Designate a room they can go to when they are scared and something they can think about when they are scared.
  • Instruct children to stay away from the kitchen, bathroom and other places in the house where there are objects that can be used as weapons.
  • Teach them that even though they want to protect their parent they should never interfere.
  • Help them make a list of people they feel comfortable talking to and expressing themselves.
  • Involve them in therapeutic workshops for children. You can contact the Municipality where you live for information and the Association for the Prevention and Treatment of Violence in the Family.

Safety plan for unsupervised visits

  • If you have separated from an abusive partner and are concerned about the safety of the children when they visit the ex-partner, develop a safety plan to benefit the children during visits.
  • Brainstorm ideas with your children (if they are old enough) on how they can stay safe using the same method if it were done in your own home. Help them recognize how they can find the phone, how they can leave the house, and who they can go to.
  • If it is safe, give children a mobile phone to use in emergencies, such as to call 199, a neighbor or you if they need help.
  • Planning for safe implementation of children's communication with the other parent
  • You can have a friend or relative with you to make the children's communication with the other parent.

Emotional safety plan:

  • Think of an activity before the meeting to keep you calm and something after the meeting.
  • Focus on the baby or your children, such as going to a park or doing a fun activity.

How to talk to your children about safety issues

Let your children know that what is happening is not their fault and that they did not cause it. Tell them how much you love them and that you support them no matter what. Say you want to protect them, so you have to have a plan for them emergency cases.

It's important to remember that when you make the safety plan with your children, they may pass this information on to the other parent, which will make the situation more dangerous (eg, "Mommy said to do this when you get angry."). When discussing the safety plan with your children, use phrases like "We're testing this plan in case of an emergency" instead of "We're testing this plan in case mom/dad gets violent."

Safety plan during pregnancy

Pregnancy is a time of change that can be full of excitement, but you need emotional support from your partner, possible financial support, help preparing for the baby and more.

If your partner is emotionally or physically abusive towards you, this period of change can be especially difficult. Pregnancy can be a particularly dangerous time for women in abusive relationships, as violence often begins or increases during pregnancy.

How can you get help?

If you are pregnant, then the risk increases during abuse. If you are in a house with stairs, try to stay on the ground floor. If you are attacked take the fetal position, it is a helpful tactic to prevent further injury.

Visits to the doctor are a good opportunity to discuss the situation you are experiencing in your relationship.

If your partner goes with you to the doctor's appointments, try to find a time / occasion (eg when you will be examined in another room) to talk privately.

Leaving an abusive relationship

Getting ready to go:

Because violence can escalate when someone tries to leave, below is some helpful information:

  1. Keep any evidence of physical abuse, such as photographs of the injuries.
  2. Keep a diary of all violent incidents, recording the days and/or time, events and threats if possible. Keep them in a safe place.
  3. Find out where you can go for help. Tell someone what's going on.
  4. If you are injured go to the government doctor and report what is wrong with you. Ask them to record your visit and give you a paper confirmation.
  5. Make a plan with your children and identify a safe place for them, a locked room or a friend's house for help. Reassure them that their job is to stay safe, not to protect you.
  6. Get job skills or take as many courses as you can.
  7. Try to collect and save money or ask a trusted friend or relative to save this money for you.

When you go:

Plan how and when you will leave quickly. Before you leave, make sure you have the following:

It is necessary to leaveοWhen you leave home, go to the nearest police station in your area and report that you are leaving your home with the children due to domestic violence.


  • Children's birth certificate and yours.
  • Cash or credit cards in your name.
  • Social security cards.
  • Driver's license.

Legal papers

  • Ordinances issued.
  • Work and residence permit.
  • Passports.
  • Marriage license.
  • Divorce and custody papers.
  • School certificates.
  • Health Insurance.

Emergency Telephone Numbers

  • Nearest police station.
  • Family, friends, relatives.
  • Nearest hospital/first aid.
  • Nearest place of accommodation.


  • Medicines.
  • Mobile phone.
  • Clothes for you and the kids.
  • Emergency money.

After you leave:

  • Change your locks and phone number.
  • Change the route for your work and the children's school.
  • Inform the school of the situation.
  • If you have a restraining order, keep a copy with you at all times.

Helpline 1440 – SPAVO

European Hotline for Missing Children 116000

Children and teenagers support line 116111