- Individual Safety Planning
Abuse is not your fault. No person has control over their abuser’s violence. Having a safety plan is an option to reduce risks of harm to yourself and to your children. Please download the safety plan worksheet below and use it for your own situation; particularly if you are in an abusive relationship! Please make sure to review your personal safety plan regularly and share it with your children (if age-appropriate) or other trusted support people. Also, make sure to keep your safety plan in a place that is not available to your abuser!
Creating a Family Safety Plan
If you are concerned about keeping your child safe from sexual abuse, there are opportunities to create a safer environment and a support network for everyone in your family. Staff at CMSAC can help you to assess your current environment and to set up a safety plan that works for your family. There are also safety planning resources available through the Stop It Now! MN website, which examines sexual abuse as a public health issue, and helps you to assess risk factors within your family. To download a copy of the steps to making a safety plan, click here. For help with developing your family safety plan, call Stop It NOW! at 1-888-773-8368 (toll free call). Note: CMSAC is not affiliated with Stop It Now! Minnesota. You may also come in to the Central MN Sexual Assault Center for more information on safety planning.
If you are in fear for your safety and/or there is an individual that is harassing you, you may consider filing for an Order for Protection (OFP), or a Harassment Restraining Order (HRO). For victims of sexual assault or domestic violence, fees for filing these papers in civil court are waived. For court forms and more information on how to file them, please visit http://www.mncourts.gov. For help completing and filing those forms, call CMSAC at 320-251-4357.
Risk Reduction Tips
There is no guaranteed way to protect yourself against rape or sexual assault, but the ideas noted below are important to consider. See the attachment below for more information on safety and prevention.
- You Have The Right To Set Sexual Limits
You may have different limits with different people, and your limits may change. It is important to think about what you want or don’t want before you end up in a situation that may not be safe.
- Communicate Your Sexual Limits
Communicate your limits to the other person. Other people cannot read your mind.
- Trust Your Feelings
If you feel that you are being pressured into unwanted sex, you have the right to say “No”. Say “No” firmly, get away, and tell a trusted support person. Yell if you need to.
- Pay Attention To Behaviors That Don’t Seem Right to You
If you notice any of the following behaviors, get out of the situation as quickly as you can and seek help (if needed):
- Someone sitting or standing too close who seems to enjoy your discomfort
- Power stares/looking through you or down at you
- Someone who blocks your way
- Someone speaking in a way, or acting as if, s/he knows you more intimately than is proper
- Someone who grabs or pushes you to get his/her way
- Someone who doesn’t listen or disregards what you are saying, (e.g., when you say, “NO”).
- Be Assertive
- Get angry when someone does something to you that you do not want.
- Act immediately with a negative response.
- Stand up for yourself. It’s okay to be rude to someone who is sexually pressuring you; even if it hurts their feelings.
Sexual Assault Risk Reduction Tips
In Your Car
Keep your doors locked at all times; even if you are leaving your car for only a short time. If you have car trouble and must stay with your car, raise your hood, get into your car, lock your doors, and wait for the police. It’s usually safer not to accept help from a stranger. At night, park in well-lighted areas. When you approach your parked car, walk confidently, have the key in your hand, and look around outside and inside your car before you get in. DO NOT pick up hitchhikers.
Keep your doors locked at all times; even if you leave for just a moment. If possible, use a 180 degree peephole on your entry door, and avoid letting anyone in that you do not know or are not expecting, (e.g., service repair persons, etc.). Use initials and not your first name on your mailbox and in the telephone directory.
On The Phone
Avoid giving personal information or confirming your telephone number to someone you do not know. On your voicemail, never say that you are not home, or refer to the fact that you live alone. Leave a message such as: “We are not taking calls at this time, please leave your name and number and your call will be returned at our earliest convenience.” Report any personal threats you receive to the police.
Avoid walking or jogging alone at night. If you do, follow well-lighted, well-traveled routes and vary the time and rate of your routine. Carry protective gear such as mace or a whistle. Avoid conversations with strangers even to give directions, especially if you are in a place where you could be cornered. Do not hitchhike. Do not accept rides from strangers. If you frequent recreational places alone or with other women, especially at night, be careful whom you leave the place with.
- Don’t put yourself in the position of being alone with someone you know only casually. When dating someone new, stick to public places until you know him or her well.
- Don’t give personal biographical information to someone you have just met. Always be aware that someone may want to take advantage of your compassion. Don’t assume that requests for money or physical help are legitimate.
- Remember that your consent for sharing a social occasion is not consent for sex.
Stalking is a course of conduct that is repetitive and is directed at a specific person that places them in fear for their safety. Stalking is illegal in all 50 states and in the District of Columbia. If you are being stalked, it is important that you have a network of safe people to whom you can speak, a safe place to go, and a plan of action when stalking occurs. Change routes to work/school, consider changing or having an unlisted phone number, do not engage in conversation with the stalker, record all messages/print all e-mails and texts, use a stalking log, carry a stalking sack(see information below), and develop a victim/offender information folder with a staff member at CMSAC by calling 320-251-4357.
Stalking sacks should include: a copy of a safety plan, a cell phone (with camera and voice recording capabilities), stalking log (notebook of stalking incidences), a pen and paper, literature on stalking and safety planning, a safety whistle, a flashlight, pepper spray/mace.
Technology Safety Planning
(Information from the National Network to End Domestic Violence)
- Trust your instincts. If you suspect that an abusive person knows too much about you and your activities, it is possible that your phone, computer, email, or other activities are being monitored.
- Plan for safety. Navigating violence, abuse, and stalking is very difficult and dangerous. Speak to an advocate at CMSAC at 320-251-4357 for ideas on how to stay safe.
- If computers and technology are a profession or a hobby for the abuser/stalker, trust your instincts and take precautions.
- Use a safer computer. If anyone abusive has access to your computer, he/she might be monitoring your computer activities. Try to use a safer computer when you look for help, a new place to live, etc.
- Create a new email account. If you suspect that anyone abusive can get access to your email, consider creating an extra email account on a safer computer. Use an anonymous name, and account, not your real name.
- Check your cell phone settings. If you are using a cell phone provided by the abusive person, consider turning it off when not in use.
- Change passwords and PIN numbers frequently. Some abusers use victims’ email and other accounts to impersonate and cause harm. Change any password protected accounts.
- Minimize use of cordless phones or baby monitors. If you don’t want others to overhear your conversations, turn baby monitors off when not in use and use a traditional corded phone for sensitive conversations.
- Use a donated or new cell phone. When making or receiving private calls or arranging escape plans, try not to use a shared or family cell phone, because cell phone billing records and phone logs might show your plan to an abuser.
- Ask about your records and data. Many court systems and government agencies are publishing records to the Internet. Ask agencies how they protect their data.
- Get a private mailbox and don’t give out your real address. When asked by businesses or professionals and others for your address, give the private mailbox address or a another safe address. Talk to an advocate about at CMSAC about options for setting up a PO Box.
- Search your name on the Internet. Major search engines such as Google and Yahoo may have links to your contact information. Contact websites to have your information removed.
Attachments (to save individual files Right click on View and Save as. Download All)
- Personal Safety PlanView
- Safety Plan for when a relationship is overView
- What can you do to prevent sexual assault?View