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COVID-19 Family Violence Safety Planning Checklist

How do I stay safe from my abuser during COVID-19?

If you are experiencing domestic violence during COVID-19, here is a checklist you can use to help you plan to stay safer.

This material was created by Family Violence Protection Services and TexasLawHelp, and includes information from Aid to Victims of Domestic Abuse and Texas Legal Services Center Crime Victims


Also see Surviving Domestic Abuse During “Stay Home” Orders: Tips on Staying Safe and Safety Planning for Domestic Violence.

To see details under each step in the checklist, click on the arrow.

 

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1: Ask for help.

If it is not safe to use your phone or computer to look for resources, ask a friend or family member to do it for you so they can share it with you in a phone conversation at a safe time.

You can seek help. To find a shelter or other services, you can use TexasLawHelp's Domestic Violence. Free Legal Help for Victims and Survivors page. 

There are several Texas-wide free, confidential resources that remain open and available to assist victims of domestic violence and sexual assault, such as:

The National Domestic Violence Hotline is one starting point for people experiencing family violence during COVID-19.

 

2: Tell someone.

Tell a friend or family member that you are being abused. They may be able to check on you or provide other help. 
 

3: Study your space.

Know the safest place in the home. Avoid places like the kitchen, bathroom, and garage where hard surfaces and objects that can be used as weapons are.

If your abuser may become violent, try to steer the argument to a room with an exit such as the front or back door.

Avoid any rooms with firearms.

 

4: Gather essentials.

Know where your keys, wallet, purse, and important papers are and keep them where you can grab them quickly.

Important documents include: social security cards for you and your children, birth certificates for you and your children, your driver’s license/identification card, passports for you and your children, work permits, or green card.

Other items you may want to take with you if you can do so safely: vehicle title, diplomas, professional licenses, photos, personal belongings.

If you cannot take the originals of the documents without your abuser becoming suspicious, make copies and leave them with a friend or family member.

 

5: Use a code word or phrase.

Have a secret code word with a friend or family member that will let them know to send help.

Household members should know how to call 911.

If you have a trusted neighbor, a household member may be able to get help if the abuser becomes violent.

 

6: What are your essential supplies?

Prepare for a situation where an abuser might hide essential supplies and/or prohibit you from leaving the home to access essential supplies.

If you or your children have prescription drugs, keep an extra monthly dosage with a family or friend.

Pay attention to how much is left of the food and products you use regularly.

Place some cash in a safe place or give it to someone you trust.

Dial 2-1-1 (option 6) for information on COVID-19 and local community resources on health care, utilities, food, housing, and more. 

 

 

7: Go outside.

Get outdoors, if you can. Staying home together provides more opportunity for conflict and for those disagreements to escalate. Take a walk, if you can, to allow some time for things to de-escalate.

If you have children, bring them outside with you, if you can. 

 

8: Prepare your vehicle.

Keep your gas tank full with your car backed into your parking place in case you have to make a quick escape in your car.

Keep spare keys in a safe place. Your abuser may hide or hold your keys. 

 

9: Plan where to stay.

If you can make plans to leave your abuser safely for a shelter or to stay with a friend or family member, do so. Remember: Never tell the person hurting you that you plan to leave.

Visit Texas Health and Human Services's Family Violence Program web site, which a tool that can help you find family violence shelters. Click on Find a Family Violence Program Center.

TexasLawHelp's Domestic Violence: Free Legal Help for Victims and Survivors is another way you can find a shelter.

 

 

 

10: Call 911.

In an emergency, call 911. 

11: You left. What is next?

After leaving an abusive relationship, there are more things you can do to be as safe as you can.

  • If your vehicle has GPS technology, disable it.
  • Change your passwords to your email, social media, bank accounts, and any other account that your abuser knows or may be able to guess.
  • If you think your abuser may still hurt you or your children, apply for a protective order and file for divorce (if applicable) and custody. To find help with your legal matters, start here: Domestic Violence: Free Legal Help for Victims and Survivors.
  • Report any threats or violence to the police. Police reports help you build a record, which you may need in court.
  • Delete anyone on social media who might give your abuser information and change your account setting to private.
  • Tell any relevant companies or agencies (for example, if you get SNAP benefits or social security benefits) that you have moved. Give them a forwarding address. If your abuser might be able to get your address from the agencies, ask if you can provide a known relatives' address instead.