Safety planning is an essential part of supporting someone who is or has experienced domestic abuse. Remember the most dangerous time is when the victim leaves the relationship and that leaving the relationship does not mean the abuse ends.
Maintain a non-judgemental approach and empower victims by listening to and respecting their wishes, not telling them what to do. Support them by ensuring they are aware of their different options and what support is available. By respecting their decision you are empowering them and increasing confidence not controlling them.
If the victim wants to stay with the abusive partner and there are children or vulnerable adults in the property who access the property then you need to assess whether there are any safeguarding concerns. Any safeguarding concerns must be reported through organisations own safeguarding procedure.
A victim may leave and return to an abuser many times before they make the final break. Cycle of change handout
There are a variety of different legal options – see Legal options sheet for more
Also consideration should be given to a disclosure under the Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme (Clare’s Law). The aim of this scheme is to provide a formal mechanism to make inquiries about a partner if someone is worried that that partner may have been abusive in the past.
If police checks show that the person who is the subject of the request has a record of violent behaviour, or there is other information to indicate that someone may be at risk from them, the police will consider sharing this information with the person potentially at risk.
The scheme aims to help them to make a more informed decision on whether to continue a relationship, and provides further help and support to assist making that decision. See Domestic Violence Disclosure scheme leaflet and Norfolk Constabulary website.
A personal safety plan is a way of helping victims to protect themselves/and their children. It helps them plan in advance for the possibility of future violence and abuse. It also helps them to think about how they can increase their safety either within the relationship, or if they decide to leave.
Important: It must not be left anywhere the perpetrator may get access to it.
Safety plans will include measures such as emergency phone numbers, SAFE passwords, an emergency bag for leaving quickly, knowing safe routes and safe rooms, alarms, markers on police systems, internet and mobile phone safety. The victim may also benefit from keeping a diary of incidents, provided it is safe to do so, as this can support civil and criminal proceedings. Example safety plans and safety advice handouts are here, including an advice handout for HBA.
Use the P for protection puzzle as a quick aide memoire.
The safer a victim feels the more likely they are to make positive changes.