Safety is complex, and what it means to be “safe” is different for each person. It is important to be cautious not to impose beliefs and ideas about safety and safety planning. Instead, we want to support people in their safety planning process from their own experience and definitions about safety.
By the time a person who is experiencing abuse in their relationship requests outside help, she/he has likely made efforts to keep themselves and their children safe. For some people, much of their energy and efforts may have been centered on safety and safety planning. It is important to acknowledge these efforts and not assume we know what they need to be safe. This person already has in-depth knowledge about their situation and what they and their family may need.
Safety planning is the leading intervention and approach used to support people thinking about and planning how to keep themselves and their children safe. Over the years, safety plans have become a routine practice often guided by a form or checklist. Although it is helpful to have a guide, it is important to support people to guide the planning based on their own individual unique circumstances. It is important to see safety planning as a fluid process.
Understanding the process of safety planning requires a recognition of the risk posed by abuse, as well as how and why these risks may increase and decrease based on changing circumstances.