Safety planning

Whether one is staying in a violent relationship or about to flee or seeking refuge after leaving, there are critical steps to be taken to assure one’s safety. These were developed by the Dane County Sheriff’s Department, which advises: “Carefully consider these options to determine what best suits your personal circumstances, as ending or managing an abusive relationship can be a complicated and dangerous matter.”


  • Seek community resources for assistance with advanced safety planning. See back of form for resources
  • If your abuser resides elsewhere, never agree to meet your abuser alone
  • Arrange child exchanges in public, such as a convenience store or restaurant that is open for business
  • Avoid isolated locations for meetings/child exchanges, even police departments may not be staffed
  • Maintain a charged cell phone (911 can be called even if there are no minutes or active service)
  • Consider obtaining a restraining order (TRO) and injunction.
  • Report violations of the restraining order or injunction to the police
  • Seek medical care if you are injured. Take photos of any bruising, swelling, etc
  • If you return home and you suspect your abuser may be inside, DO NOT GO IN, call 911
  • Never open the door if you cannot see who is there
  • Plan a code word with a friend to make a 911 call for you if you cannot safely call for help yourself
  • Hide a bag or store it with a trusted friend if you need to leave home quickly. Suggested contents include: Clothes, shoes, cash, medications, keys, important documents, extra phone, children’s and pet’s items
  • Make family/friends aware of your concerns, daily routines, routes, or travel and work schedules
  • Take care of yourself: Improve sleep, nutrition, health, fitness. Consider a support group or self defense class


  • Identify safer rooms in your home to move to if an argument is escalating, or you do not feel safe
  • Consider removing weapons from the home, separate ammunition from the weapons
  • Account for all of your keys
  • Change/repair door locks; secure/repair windows and patios. Contact landlord for repairs if you rent
  • Be cautious of unexpected deliveries or unknown persons at your door/around your property
  • Keep doors and windows locked, garage doors shut
  • Keep outdoor lighting on at night, consider installing motion/flood lighting
  • Keep windows and shades closed at night
  • Get a peephole installed. Ask landlord to install this safety feature
  • Change codes to your garage doors, pin pads, and remotes
  • Notify landlord or neighbors of persons and vehicles not wanted on/around your property
  • Plan an escape route out of your home and identify where you can go for help
  • Consider having an alarm system or security camera installed


  • Tell employers or co-workers not to give out your phone or address, or work schedule
  • Give a photo of your abuser to security, supervisor and friends at work.
  • Talk to your supervisor or Human Resources about your safety concerns
  • Establish a response plan/escape route for your workplace if your abuser causes issues
  • Ask about relocating your workspace to a more secure area
  • Walk with others to lunch, to and from your parking area, or the bus stop
  • Notify your payroll department to change, or set up direct deposit (monitor your accounts)
  • Park your car in different locations or carpool with a co-worker


  • Teach your child how to call 911 and give your address and phone number for help
  • Teach children where to go for help outside the house, have them name safe people and places
  • Plan an escape route out of the house with your children
  • Notify your child’s school or daycare of your safety concerns, provide a photo of your abuser
  • To report child abuse/neglect call Dane County Child Protective Services at 608-261-5437


  • Set all social networking sites to the most private security settings
  • Make sure your text content can only be read on your phone/devices (check for shared apps/accounts)
  • Save all voicemails, text messages, emails from abuser for documentation
  • It is legal in Wisconsin to tape record your own phone conversations with another party
  • Change all passwords/PIN codes to bank accounts, ATM cards, online accounts, etc
  • Change all phone and voicemail security codes
  • Consider getting a PO box if your personal mailbox or online accounts are not secure
  • If you suspect there is spyware installed on your computer, have it inspected
  • Monitor your children’s phone and computer use for contact with the abuser


  • Gather important documents (social security cards, birth certificates, custody/court paperwork, leases/deeds, insurance documents, etc.) Make copies and store at safe location away from home
  • If you do not have a secure mailbox, switch bills online versus regular mail to avoid mail theft
  • Obtain a credit report and account for all of your bank cards and accounts
  • Change passwords to your ATM cards and bank accounts
  • Remove your name from any shared accounts, or try to close them
  • Consider opening a separate checking/savings account in your own name


  • Keep a charged cell phone in your vehicle
  • Lock your doors as soon as you get in your car
  • If you need glasses to drive, keep an extra pair in your vehicle
  • Keep distance between the vehicle in front of you to avoid being blocked in
  • Park in well lit areas
  • If you think you are being followed, drive to a lighted public place
  • When pulling in your garage, wait until your garage door is secure before exiting vehicle
  • Be aware of your surroundings in parking garages, lots
  • Change your regular travel habits, take different routes at different times


24/7 Crisis Line – 608-280-2600

United Way 2-1-1 (First Call For Help) – Dial “ 211”

Domestic Abuse Intervention Services (DAIS) – 608-251-4444

Elder Abuse Hotline – 608-261-9933

Parent Stress line – 608-241-2221

Rape Crisis Center– Free, confidential 24/7 helpline, counseling, medical and legal advocacy    608-251-7273

Dane County Human Services – 608-242-6200
Dane County Child Protective Services – 608-261-5437, after hours line 608-255-6067

Dane County Non-emergency police line – 608-255-2345

Dane County District Attorney’s Office – 608-266-4211
District Attorney’s Office Domestic Violence Unit – 608-266-9003

Salvation Army Emergency Family Shelter – 608-250-2251