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?

    Safe communication:
  • 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.

Crisis Lines

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.)

Trans Lifeline: 1-877-330-6366 (available 7am to 1am every day). Trans Lifeline provides culturally competent services to trans and gender-nonconforming people in crisis.

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.

It is possible that either you, your partner, or both of you have been laid-off or asked by your employer to work remotely. Safety planning can help you to feel safer and to protect you during this stressful time. Some helpful safety planning resources are listed further down the page.

Due to COVID-19, there may be limited space available at shelters. This being said, many shelters have waitlists and can direct folks to other options in the community. If you are planning to leave and are unable to secure shelter space, consider other places you may be able to stay such as family, friends, motels, or sleeping in your vehicle. Be extra mindful of good hygiene practices if you’re leaving as well – wash your hands regularly, avoid touching your face, minimize contact with surfaces that other people have had contact with, etc.

COVID-19 is causing uncertainty for many people, but getting through this time while experiencing abuse can feel really overwhelming. We recognize that it may not be possible right now, but if you can, try to take some time to care for yourself. This could look like many things such as: doing some breathing exercises, stretching, eating food, taking a nap, reading a book, having a bath, calling a friend or family member, watching a funny show, writing in a journal and much more. You are the expert of your own experience, and you get to define what self care is for you.

For more ideas on how to practice self care while trying to stay safe, check out this blog post from the National Domestic Violence Hotline.

If your friend or family member is experiencing abuse, you may not be able to visit them in person due to current and adapting public health measures. Seeing someone you care about being hurt is stressful. Remind yourself that you can’t make decisions for someone else, but you can check in on your loved one, assist with safety planning and support them in practicing self care while they are in their home. You may also try to make yourself available for support when possible.

Learn more about how to support a survivor on our How to Support page, or call us at 778-400-5007. You can also reach us via email at .

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.

  • WikiHow: 8 Ways to Clear Your Browser’s Cache.
  • Alberta Council of Women’s Shelters: Cover Your Tracks:
    • DO NOT save this address as a bookmark on your browser (the software that allows you to access the internet). Write the address down and hide it where you know your partner will not find it. You may want to write this address in such a way that your partner will not know what it is. You can also memorize the address.
    • Locate and clear web browser histories on your hard drive. The information in these files is created when visiting websites. Delete the information in these files. Most often the contents of these files are only computer jargon, but there is a possibility that the web sites you have visited can be traced from these files. Every browser will create and store this information differently.
    • Please note: clearing web browser histories in this way will delete ALL histories of visited websites. If you are concerned that someone may be checking up on your Internet usage, the absence of all files and history may appear suspicious.

      Before closing the browser AFTER you have left this site:

      PC Windows – Internet Explorer:
    • Select the Tools in the menu bar. Open the Internet Options Dialog Box and select the General Tab.
    • In the Temporary Internet Files, click Delete Files. Check the “Delete all offline content” and click OK.
    • In the History, click Clear History.
    • Click OK to exit the Internet Options Dialog Box

      PC Windows – Netscape:
    • Select the Edit in the menu bar, then select the Preference.
    • Under the Category, select Navigator. Then click Clear History.
    • Under the Category, select Cache under Advanced. First click the Clear Memory Cache followed by the Clear Disk Cache.

    • Click “Tools” – “Options”.
    • With the “Options” dialog box appears, click “Privacy”.
    • Click the “History” tab.
    • Click “Clear Browsing History Now”.
    • Press “OK” to close the dialog box.

      PC Windows
    • (right click the mouse on the Start at the bottom of the menu bar, select Explore)
    • Select Windows in the C drive.
    • Open the Temporary Internet Files Folders. Select all the files inside this folder and delete.
    • Open the History folder (e.g. c:\windows\history\today in Win 98), select all the files inside this folder and delete.
    • Open the Cookies folder (e.g. c:\windows\cookies in Win 98), select all the files inside this folder and delete.
    • Disable the AutoComplete in the windows and/or browser options.
    • Finally, after completing the above deletions, you should also empty the recycle bin.

  • Internet-based telephones, which also go by names like “VOIP,” or “Network Telephony,” keep records of all calls. Web-based telephone systems, such as Skype, also keep records. This means that your calls could be reviewed or tracked when using these phones.
  • Cell phones can also keep records of the numbers that have been called.
  • A local call made on a regular telephone line will not produce a record of the call. However, many telephones have a “redial” button, and you may want to call a friend or other “safe” number after you make any call that you don’t want your partner to know about – they can check up on you just by pressing “redial.”
    • One way to be sure your home telephone uses a regular telephone line is to check your telephone bill. It will come from a telephone company, such as Bell or Telus. It will not list any local numbers, only long distance. If you still aren’t sure, you should use extra caution.
  • When possible, use a friend or family member’s phone, a public phone, or a work phone.