Safety Plan Resource: Overview

Safety Plan Overview

An Elder Abuse Safety Plan Resource

This safety plan is for older adults who may be abused by or afraid of their spouse/partner, adult child, grandchildren, nieces, or nephews or other family members. It is also a resource for those helping an older adult who may be in danger.

It is important to plan in advance for how you will try to manage potentially dangerous situations. Choose only the suggestions listed below that make sense for your circumstances.


What Safety Plans Can I Make to Help Protect Myself?

If you are living with the person who is hurtful it is important to make plans to protect yourself, even if you do not think you will need to use them.

Safety plans may include:

  • Ask a neighbor to call the police if they hear a disturbance coming from your home.
  • Devise a code word or phrase with your neighbors, for example: Calling your neighbor and saying, “I need sugar” could be a signal that you are in trouble. Upon hearing this, the neighbor will know to call the police.
  • Plan where you will go and what you will take with you  if you have to leave your house or apartment in an emergency. Think about where you will stay and how you will get there. Also, think about how you will have your mail and phone forwarded to a new address.
  • Be ready to leave in a hurry if something dangerous happens. Visualize how you would get out of your home safely and quickly, and practice that escape route. Identify the best doors, windows, elevator, or stairwell and familiarize yourself with this route. If something dangerous happens, you will be ready.
  • Have a packed bag ready with any important essentials (see the checklist below). Keep the bag hidden and in a handy place so that you will be able to leave quickly. Consider leaving the bag at a neighbor or a friend’s if the person abusing you routinely searches your home.

If you are living alone or not living with the person who is hurtful it is also important to make plans to protect yourself, even if you do not think you will need to use them.

Safety plans may include:

  • Call your local police precinct and request that a community patrol officer come to your home to do a free home security survey.
  • Change the locks on your doors if it is at all possible the hurtful family member has access to a key. Buy additional locks and safety devises to secure your windows.
  • Consider installing or increasing your outside lighting.
  • Discuss a safety plan with those living with you who are not abusive (this could be children, grandchildren, or other dependents), e.g. where to go and what to do if a crisis occurs.
  • Inform neighbors and your landlord that the person abusing you does not live with you and that they should call the police if they see the abusive family member near your home. It is a good idea to give a photograph of the family member who is harmful to you to your neighbors, building superintendent, and/or landlord.



How Can I Plan for my Safety in Public Places? 

When out in public (for example, doing errands, at work, at social or recreational events or doing volunteer work), it is best to:

  • Decide whom you will inform of your situation. This could include your office, senior center, building security, or places where you frequently shop or eat (if possible, provide these places with a picture of the hurtful family member).
  • Devise a safety plan for when you are out in public. Try to shop in different stores, and diversify your schedule of activities so that your routines are not predictable. Use a variety of routes to go home. If possible, have someone escort you to your car, bus, or taxi. Think about what you would do if you encountered the hurtful family member while out. For example, stay in a busy store or on a crowded street while calling or asking someone for help.


How Can I Plan for My Safety When the Danger Escalates?
How Should I Use an Order of Protection or Restraining Order?
What Should I do if a Family Member is Hurting Me?
What Should I Consider When Planning to Leave an Abusive Situation?
What Should I Bring if I Leave My Home?
Where To Get Help