Preparing a Safety Plan for women living in domestic violent homes is a difficult task, let alone during a pandemic such as we are facing during COVID-19. Allow me to state that making a Safety Plan, personalized to each vulnerable woman’s situation, is not so black and white, which too many folks presume. COVID-19 exacerbates an already delicate safety matter. For now, the messaging everywhere is ‘social distancing,’ ‘self-isolation’ and ‘stay home where you are safe.’ Except, for women and children who live in a domestic abusive home environment, staying home offers only rare times of relief in which to collect your thoughts, have moments of perspective, the ability to attend to counselling or tele-counselling, let alone a support group where there are times to strategize how to protect yourself and plan how to safely leave with your child(ren).
Wise and creative safety planning requires complete ‘buy-in’ from the woman, who, too often, is double-minded about leaving. She may still love her abuser; she simply wants the abuse to stop. When, and only when, she understands the cycle of violence and can recognize each stage within it, can she then commit to preparing a safety plan that is right for her and her child(ren)?
When she is committed to executing her own personalized safety plan, often with the support of a frontline worker in ending violence against women, she is more likely to prepare a safe pathway for her and her child(ren) to change the trajectory of their lives. Healing and the hope for and fulfillment of a better life is possible when she feels and is safe, physically and psychologically. Albeit frightened or terrorized, and grieving losses of what could have been but never will be, courageous women are choosing to leave the suffering they have endured for far too long by violent, abusive men and/or family members.
SHADE, through our community-requested pilot program, MIRRORS, has developed a comprehensive safety planning document we call, “My Safety Plan.” The following is an excerpt from “My Safety Plan.”
Download, print and use this plan to help you and your loved ones stay safe from abuse.