When a woman is ready to leave Interval House and move into an apartment of her own, the first thing she does is to pack a little bag of essentials to put under the bed in case her ex-partner should ever show up. She needs to be ready to get out fast. Just like the first time.
It’s all part of a safety plan to help her to think and act quickly to keep herself and her children safe. A woman who is fleeing from an abusive relationship must be prepared for what might happen if she encounters the ex-partner on the bus, or at the mall. She should not even have to think about it: just turn and run away. Never talk to him.
She will know what to do because it’s part of the plan.
Living outside of the shelter, each woman is encouraged to create a customized plan to feel safer in their neighbourhood. She can ask herself such questions as: who can I tell to call the police if they ever hear fighting in my home? Who will look after the kids in an emergency?
And finally, she can write down everything she needs to be safer in her apartment. So for example, she can mark down where all of the exits and the entrances are for the unit and the building.
Part of safety planning is knowing that there could come a day down the road when the past returns, and it’s important to be prepared for that, too. Interval House will always be part of a woman’s safety plan; the crisis line is available when she needs to talk to someone.
At the end of the day—every day—thinking and planning ahead are what keeps families safe.