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Shelter: (605) 996-2765 Hotline: (605) 996-4440 Visitation Center: 605-996-8880

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Safety Planning

Women who are abused usually feel sad, angry, and alone or even crazy. They may blame themselves. But no one deserves to be battered.

Don’t listen to anyone who tells you the abuse is your fault, the batterer is the one with the problem.

You have a right to be safe


  • If an argument seems unavoidable, try to have it in a room or area that has access to an exit and not in the bathroom, kitchen or anywhere near weapons.
  • During attack protect your face, chest and abdomen.
  • Take pictures of injuries.
  • Practice getting out of your home safely. Identify which door, windows, elevator or stairwell would be best.
  • Teach your children how to use the telephone and how to contact the police and the fire department.
  • Have a packed bag ready and keep it in an undisclosed but accessible place in order to leave quickly. There is a checklist below of things you need to take with you if you leave.
  • Plan how to leave. Would it be by car, bus, taxi, a ride from a friend or on foot? If it’s by car, have a spare set of keys and keep gas in the tank at all times.
  • Police stations, fire stations and hospitals are always open. You can go there for immediate safety. Know where they are and fastest way to get there.
  • Identify a neighbor you can tell about the violence and ask that they call the police if they hear a disturbance coming from your home.
  • Devise a code word to use with your children, family, friends and neighbors when you need the police.
  • Decide and plan for where you will go if you have to leave home (even if you don’t think you will need to).
  • Use your own instincts and judgment. If the situation is very dangerous consider giving the abuser what he wants to calm him down. You have the right to protect yourself until you are out of danger.
  • Get counseling or join support groups or social activities.
  • Do some reading on domestic violence.


  • Open a savings account in your own name to start to establish or increase your independence. Think of other ways in which you can increase your independence.
  • Leave money, an extra set of keys, copies of important documents (see list below) and extra clothes with someone you trust so you can leave quickly.
  • Make a list of family and friends who could help in an emergency. Ask what they would be willing to do (transportation, shelter, money, etc.).
  • Keep the safehouse phone number close at hand. You are welcome to call a shelter as many times as you need. Their concern is for your safety.
  • Review your safety plan as often as possible in order to plan the safest way to leave your batterer.

Leaving your batterer is the
most dangerous time


If your partner hits you, report it to the police as soon as you can.

The police can come to you or you can go to them. They will talk to you in person and file a report.

If you have been injured they will take pictures of your injuries.

They may arrest your partner.


  • Get a protection order and keep it with you at all times. This legal document orders the batterer to stay away from you, your home and your children. The Mitchell Area Safehouse can help you get one.
  • Call the police if your partner breaks the protection order.
  • Think of alternative ways to keep safe if the police do not respond right away.
  • Inform family, friends and neighbors that you have a protection order in effect.
  • Find out about agencies and programs that can help. You can get help with food, shelter, clothes, medical care, completing your education, job training and childcare. The Mitchell Area Safehouse will help you with referrals and numbers to contact.

What you need to take with you when you leave

Identification   Small saleable objects
Driver’s License   Address book
Children’s birth certificates   Medical records
Money   Social Security cards
Lease, rental agreement or house deed   Divorce papers
Checking or savings account books   School records and vaccination records
ATM card   Work permit, green card, passport
Credit Cards   Jewelry
Insurance papers   Pictures
House and car keys   Children’s small toys
Medications and prescriptions      


  • Change the locks on your doors as soon as possible. Buy additional locks and safety devices to secure your windows.
  • Purchase rope ladders to use for escape from second floor windows.
  • Install smoke detectors and purchase fire extinguishers for each floor of your home.
  • Install outside motion detector lighting.
  • Discuss a safety plan with your children for when you are not with them.
  • Inform your child’s school, daycare, etc., about who has permission to pick up your child.
  • Inform neighbors and landlords that your partner no longer lives with you and they should call the police if they see him near your home.
  • Never call the abuser from your home, if he as Caller ID he may locate you.


  • Decide who at work you will inform about your situation. This should include office building security (provide a picture if possible).
  • Arrange to have someone screen your calls if possible.
  • Devise a safety plan for you when you leave work. Have someone escort you to your car. Use a variety of routes to go home if possible. Think about what to do if something happened while going home.
  • Use different grocery stores, malls, banks, doctors, etc. to conduct business and shop at hours that are different than those you used when residing with you batterer.


  • If you are thinking of returning to a potentially abusive situation, discuss an alternative plan with someone you trust. Remember, things will not change in your relationship until he gets SERIOUS professional help.
  • If you have to communicate with your partner, determine the safest method.
  • Have positive thoughts about yourself and be assertive with others about your needs.
  • Read books, articles and poems to help you feel stronger.
  • Attend a women’s support group at least 2 weeks to gain support from others and learn more about yourself and the relationship.


Children know that fighting is going on, even if you think they don’t. Denying it or not talking about it upsets them even more.

  • Talk to them and let them tell you how they feel.
  • Tell them the fighting is not their fault.
  • Tell them to stay out of the fighting.
  • Talk about where they can hide inside the home (closet, under the bed, in a room that has a lock on the door).
  • Talk about where they can hide outside the home (garage, neighbors, friends).
  • Talk about whom they can go to for help (grandparents, other relatives, neighbor, friends and police).
  • Teach older children how to call 911. Practice what to say when they call. (Daddy is hitting Mommy. We live at….Hurry).

Treatment for Batterers

Therapists trained in domestic violence lead therapy groups for batterers. They try to help batterers change their violent behavior.

Batterers have to want to stop.
They must agree to weekly therapy sessions for at least 1 year.
Batterers may also need treatment for drug or alcohol abuse.
Even with counseling, violent patterns are hard to break. So you need to get help for yourself and have plans to stay safe.

Shelter: (605) 996-2765  •  Hotline: (605) 996-4440  •  Visitation Center: 605-996-8880

Mitchell Area Safehouse and Family Visitation Center
1809 North Wisconsin, Mitchell, South Dakota 57301