Leaving your harm doer

What is a safety plan?

A safety plan is a set of actions that can help lower your risk of being hurt by your harm doer. You can think of it as a personalized to-do list designed to increase your safety while you're together with, leaving, or separated from your partner. Safety plans typically include actions for staying safe at home, work, school, or any other places you go on a daily basis.

Safety planning is different for everyone. Depending on your situation, resources, location, and a thousand other things, your safety plan is going to be unique. You can learn more about safety planning for different kinds of domestic abuse and life situations on WomensLaw’s page on Safety Tips

Creating a safety plan

To create a safety plan online, we recommend using the National Domestic Violence Hotline's Create a Safety Plan Tool. The tool will ask you a series of questions and then provide you with a printable safety plan that you can reference whenever you need it.

In addition to using this tool, we also recommend contacting a trained advocate in your area to create or discuss your safety plan. They may have additional suggestions based on your unique situation and resources available in your area.

Financial considerations

When creating your safety plan, there are financial considerations you can make to help protect your financial health and to prepare for the monetary costs of leaving your harm doer. 

Gather important financial information

Having access to your financial and personal information will give you the ability to assess your financial health and regain control of your finances when it’s safe to do so. The following is a list of information you may want to make copies of, photograph, and/or store in a safe place:

  • Social Security numbers (for yourself and any dependents)
  • Bank, credit card and other financial statements
  • Benefits coverage (including public assistance and retirement)
  • Insurance coverage (medical, auto, life, etc.)
  • Mortgage statements or home leases
  • Passports and visas
  • Photos of valuable assets including your home, vehicles, and furniture

Managing joint accounts

If you leave your partner (even temporarily), consider taking half of the money in joint bank accounts. After you leave, your partner will continue to have shared access to these accounts, and some harm doers will withdraw all remaining funds to financially cripple their partner as punishment for leaving. Securing half of this money in advance can protect you. Be sure to keep receipts and records of how you spend that money in case it comes up later during divorce or other legal proceedings. 

Source: The Allstate Foundation Moving Ahead Curriculum

Creating a safety fund

A safety fund is a cash reserve that you set aside to cover the costs of staying safe wherever you are on your journey. For someone living with their harm doer, a safety fund could help pay for things like a secret cellphone to increase access to support. For someone who just left their harm doer, a safety fund can help cover day-to-day costs, such as food and transportation. 

To learn more about safety funds, please see the “How can I save money discreetly” section, which can also be found in the “Leaving Your Harm Doer” section of our Financial Resource Guide. 

Emergency credit cards

One survivor we interviewed described her emergency credit card as life-saving. When she became scared that her partner was intent on causing her severe physical harm one night, she decided to use her emergency card to pay for a taxi and a hotel room. She shared that getting away that night most likely saved her life. 

Emergency credit cards are a powerful tool that can provide you with the ability to quickly make purchases to get out of and stay away from dangerous situations. However, credit cards can also create additional safety risks and hurt your financial health if not managed well.

To learn more about emergency credit cards, read our module “Should I get an emergency credit card,” which can also be found in the “Leaving Your Harm Doer” section of our Financial Resource Guide.

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