If you or someone you know has recently experienced sexualized or gender-based violence, you might fear that the person who committed harm against you will do it again. Safety planning is something you can do to help protect yourself or others.
If you or someone you know needs support with safety planning, please visit our Support Page to find out how to access our peer support services.
The following information combines knowledge from several sources including but not limited to: The National Domestic Violence Hotline, LoveIsRespect.org, the Ending Violence Association of Canada, and the Alberta Council of Women’s Shelters.
What is a Safety Plan?
A safety plan is a personalized, practical plan that can help you navigate dangerous situations and consider ways to react when you’re in danger. There are many reasons why someone might want to have a safety plan. You might be planning to leave an abusive relationship, in the process of leaving or maybe you’ve already left. You may also want to find some ways to keep yourself as safe as possible within your current circumstances. Or, perhaps a friend or family member is experiencing abuse, and you are looking for ways to support them. Information about safety planning is often geared towards people experiencing domestic or intimate partner violence, but anyone can create a safety plan. Safety plans come in all shapes and sizes, and they should be unique to the survivor’s needs in the moment (loveisrespect.org). No matter what you do, remember that no one ever asks for violence. This is not your fault.
Some questions to think about…
- Do you feel safe right now? If not, is there anywhere that you can go where you might feel safer?
- Does anyone that you are close to know what’s happened? Is there someone supportive in your life that you’d feel comfortable reaching out to?
- What do you need right now? Would you feel better after eating some food, drinking some water, or going for a walk?
- If you are concerned that you are still in danger of further violence, is there someone that you can stay with or someone that can come and stay with you?
- Do you have a place where you can talk on the phone without being overheard?
- Do you think you should wipe evidence of calls, emails, or internet searches? There is more information on clearing your history and phone safety further down this page.
Remember: it’s okay if your answer to these questions is yes, no, maybe, or I don’t know.
For more information on these supports and others visit our Emergency information, Organizations and Resources page.
Vancouver Island Crisis Line: 1-888-494-3888 (available 24-hours). The Vancouver Island Crisis Line can provide support, information, and referrals. They also provide support over text and online chat–visit their website for more information.
The Victoria Sexual Assault Centre’s Sexual Assault Response Team (SART) is available to anyone who has been assaulted in the past week and provides 24-hour all-gender crisis support, information and referrals, including information on safety planning. SART can be accessed via the Vancouver Island Crisis Line: 1-888-494-3888.
Women Against Violence Against Women: 1-877-392-7583 (available 24-hours). The centre provides immediate crisis and long-term support services to survivors of sexualized violence who have shared experiences of gender marginalization: cis and trans women, Two-Spirit, trans and/or non-binary people. They advocate for social and systemic change through education, outreach and activism. (Based in Vancouver.)
Battered Women’s Support Services: 604-687-1867 (available 24-hours). BWSS provides emotional support, information, and referrals to community resources; specific information about coping; and can help create a safety plan for women who are dealing with violence and/or the effects of abuse. They are committed to providing support to transgender, two-spirit, and non-binary survivors as well. (Based in Vancouver.)
Victoria Women’s Transition House: 250-385-6611 (available 24-hours). The Victoria Women’s Transition House Society collaborates, advocates and educates to address and prevent intimate partner violence and abuse of women and children through supportive shelter, housing, counselling and other community-based services.
KUU-US Crisis Line: 1-800-588-8717 (available 24-hours). KUU-US provides crisis support for Indigenous people throughout British Columbia. Once the crisis issue has been identified, the level of severity for call handling is determined. The goal is to establish a non-judgmental approach to listening and problem solving. A support system is put into place where the caller is brought back to a pre-crisis state. (Based in Port Alberni.)
Youthspace: available by text 6pm to midnight every day: 778-783-0177 or by online chat. Youthspace is an online support network for youth up to 30 years. While the website itself is accessible to anyone, services are directed at young people residing in southern Vancouver Island or the Gulf Islands.
UVic Campus Security: 250-721-7599 (available 24-hours). Campus Security officers can respond to health and safety concerns in relation to sexualized violence. They can connect survivors and those impacted by sexualized violence to resources on and off-campus, and help create personal safety plans.
Safety Planning and COVID-19
(Adapted from the National Domestic Violence Hotline.)
We recognize that people surviving violence in their relationships and families could be experiencing increased isolation and danger as physical and social distancing measures continue to be enforced. Practicing self-isolation and limiting our interactions with others is crucial to reducing the spread of COVID-19, but we understand that being at home may not be the safest option for everyone. Any external factors that add stress and financial strain can negatively impact survivors and create circumstances where their safety is further compromised. Know that despite the fact that some things have been canceled or put on pause, many local organizations continue to make their support and services available to those that need them at this time.
If you think yourself or someone you know is unsafe during the COVID-19 pandemic, here are some special considerations.
Safety Planning Resources
Please note: Some of the resources available and highlighted below use binary gendered language (i.e. men and women). At AVP, we understand that anyone can experience violence, including men, women, trans folks, gender-variant and gender-non-conforming folks and Two-Spirit people. We also know that violence can occur in all forms of relationships, not only those that are heterosexual.