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Safety Planning for Friends & Families of Domestic Violence

Sadly, it is not only domestic violence survivors who are at risk as the result of an abusive relationship. It can also be others in the survivor’s life who are placed in harm’s way, such as family members, co-workers, friends, etc. If someone in your life is a domestic violence survivor and you believe that you may be at risk, it is important to take as many steps as possible to avoid a dangerous situation.

Assess the Threat

Domestic violence is nothing to take lightly. If an abuser is willing to commit the crime of domestic violence in the first place, it is possible that person is willing to commit further crimes in the future. When threats are made against family members, friends, or co-workers, those threats should be documented and assessed. Do you feel that the threat of violence is real, or is it an attempt to maintain power and control over the domestic violence survivor? Of course, you always want to err on the side of caution when it comes to evaluating any threat of violence. If you think there is even a small chance that the abuser will follow through on a threat, you should take it seriously and respond as necessary.

The importance of a safety plan cannot be overstated in this situation. Safety planning involves setting up a detailed outline of the steps you are going to take in case of certain events within an abusing relationship. A good safety plan will account for as many different scenarios as possible, since you never really know what direction this may go. If you are helping a loved one who is a domestic violence survivor, working together with that individual on a safety plan is a good idea. It will be hard to make clear decisions in the heat of the moment, so being well-prepared is going to make a positive outcome more likely to occur.

Warning Signs

There are a few signs to watch for if you are worried that domestic violence could escalate. For instance, things like the presence of a firearm or genuinely suicidal thoughts (on the part of the abuser) will make it more likely that lethal violence will occur. Also, one of the most dangerous times in an abusive relationship is when the survivor chooses to leave the relationship, so that event will need to be carefully planned and organized.

When it comes to successfully escaping an abusive relationship, planning is paramount. That is true for the survivor of the domestic violence, and it is also true for those close to the situation like family members and friends. If you aren’t sure how to proceed, seeking professional help – when it is safe to do so – may be a wise choice. It is difficult to deal with domestic violence in any form, and it becomes particularly tough when threats are made against loved ones. Hopefully, with good planning and plenty of support, everyone will be able to get out of this situation safe and secure.

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