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Crisis Intervention: An Escape Plan

No one knows your partner better than you do. What may seem like a simple glance or an offhand remark, you may understand to be a threat or warning sign. If you are afraid, you are probably right to feel that way. If you don't feel that you want to leave your partner at this point, that does not mean that you are bad, stupid, desire to be hurt or want to be made to feel badly. It does mean, however, that you must take extra special care to plan for a crisis situation. The fact is that violence gets progressively worse, and you must protect yourself accordingly. You need time to make decisions about your own life while also attempting to keep yourself violence-free.

The purpose of this plan is to help you recognize a pattern in your partner's behavior.  If you can identify the clues that your partner provides as a situation escalates, you may be able to make preparations to leave—for however long you want—before you are hurt.  Your experience is your best weapon and your sense of fear is your best tool.  You do have choices, and escape may be possible, even temporarily.  Whether or not you actually use this plan, having thought about it gives you power. 

Safety Plan Checklist:
Although it might be difficult or upsetting, try to think carefully about four incidents when your partner became violent (if your partner has been physically violent less than three times, then think about other situations in which you were afraid):
   - the first incident
   - a typical incident
   -the worst or one of the worst incidents
   -the most recent incident

Remember Details:
Try to play through scenes slowly in your mind—don't focus on you but concentrate on and make notes of:
   -what your partner said (curses, lies, stories)
   -how your partner said it
   -tone of voice
   -ability to Listen
   -effects of drugs or alcohol
   -facial features (a certain look in your partner's eyes, a nervous twitch)
   -body posture

Where does the violence usually start?
Think about your surroundings.

Floor plan—draw a map:
While you may know your house well, if you are upset, frightened, hurried or injured it may be difficult to figure out an escape route.  Take the time to actually draw a map, and make note of things you might need to do in order to get out.  If you have young children, you must figure out the best way to grab and remove them.  If they are older, a signal and a meeting place away from your partner should be agreed upon.  Anticipate any problems by having at least two different escape routes planned as you would for a fire drill. 

   -doors, windows, exits
   -baby or young children (how will you bring them with you)
   -older children (you may want to establish a code word or signal to let older children know that you are putting the plan into action)

Pack a bag with emergency items:
You may want to hide this bag under a bed, with a friend or at work.  Things to remember:
   -extra house and car keys
   -birth certificates
   -clothes, toiletries
   -important paperwork (bankbooks, checkbooks)
   -personal treasures or family heirlooms
   -pet supplies

Know locations and phone numbers of safe places:

Remember when you were a child and they made you walk through fire drills over and over—just to be safe?  Well do it again.  Take some time when you will be alone or with any children who might need to know about your plan and rehearse.  First, talk it out.  Explain out loud what you will be looking for in his behavior, where you might expect to be, what you may hear and how it may make you feel.  Then, talk out your actual route of escape—and have at least two.  Next, trace that map with your finger.  Finally, actually walk it out—two times or more until your body learns what to do without you having to think about it.  While this may seem unnecessary, this plan could save your life.