Staying Safe

If you are at risk of domestic violence, stalking or sexual violence, it is a good idea to have a protection plan. A protection plan can remind you what to do if you are in danger and you need to act quickly.

The cycle of abuse and its role in protection planning

Violence in abusive relationships follows what is known as a cycle of abuse. An assault is usually followed by a period of justification or calm, where the abuser either rationalizes her/his behavior or feels and acts sorry about the attack. Although both partners may try to make the relationship continue in a normal way by pretending that everything is all right, tension begins to build again. It is during the build-up phase that the chances of assault are much greater. The safest, surest way to protect yourself (and your children) is to put some distance between you and your partner during these high-risk times.

The elements of a protection plan

A protection plan can help you recognize when violence may occur, who can help you, where you can go, and what items you should have with you, if you need to escape.

  1. Be aware of the signs that tell you an assault is about to take place.
    Every abusive person has a different set of signs that indirectly tells her/his partner that an incident is about to happen. Being aware of these signs can help people in an abusive relationship know when they will be at risk. It is important to trust your instincts.

    Answering the following questions will help you figure out what signs to look for:

    • What does your partner do or say in the period before an incident?
    • Does alcohol play a role in the violence towards you?
    • Is there a predictable time between incidents?
    • When was the last incident and when can you expect the next one?
    • Are there other indicators that an incident is about to happen? Examples may include unemployment, pregnancy and money problems.
  2. Be aware of things the abuser can use to hurt you.
    • Be aware of where guns, knives and other weapons are stored.
    • Find safe places where there are fewer dangerous things. Try to stay out of the kitchen, garage or workshop.
  3. Identify who can help you.
    • Tell someone you can trust about the abuse.
    • Tell your boss, supervisor, friends, and/or family about your situation.
    • Discuss protection planning with your children. Agree on a code word, so your children will know when to call for help.
  4. Decide on a safe place you can go to with your children.
    This might be a crisis shelter, the home of a friend or relative, a hotel, or any other place where you can be safe. Be aware of who lives in your area. Tell your neighbors about the situation and request that they call the police if they see the abuser or hear suspicious noises coming from your house. Do not tell your partner that you are thinking of leaving. If you cannot leave your home, is there a room or area of your home where you can be safe?

  5. Decide how you will get there.
    Decide what transportation you will use to get to a safe place. If you have a car, hide a spare key and keep a full tank of gas. If not, who can help you get to your place of safety? You might arrange for a friend, neighbor or relative to pick you up when the time comes. You may also want to keep some money with friends, so that when you feel threatened, you can leave quickly by taxi even if you have no cash on you. The police or Domestic Abuse Crisis Line may be able to help you plan your transportation.

  6. Decide how you will escape from your home if an attack is about to happen.
    Find out if there is a door or window you can use for escape if necessary, and whether your children can also get through these exits. Make sure that, once you leave the home, you know immediately where to go. Find out beforehand where the nearest public phone is. Memorize any emergency numbers you may need (e.g., crisis shelter, police, social worker).

  7. Decide what to take when you leave.
    Do not stay behind to take any belongings, if it endangers you or your children.
    If possible, do not leave your children. If you are in immediate danger and need to leave them, return as soon as possible, with the police, if necessary. However, be aware that the police may not be able to help unless you have a valid court order identifying who has custody of the children. If you are not in immediate danger, you should pack the following:

    • identification for you and you children – such as birth certificates, your social insurance number, driver’s license, immigration papers or treaty card, Manitoba Health card
    • band number, passport
    • legal documents – your mortgage or lease, or information about loans or assets you have, a copy of a protection order, custody orders
    • address book, if not recorded in your phone
    • credit cards, ATM card, cheques, bank book
    • keys for your house, car and safety deposit box
    • personal items (e.g.:clothing, toiletries)
    • medications you or your children are taking
    • children’s items (clothing, favorite toys, diapers or bottles)

Additional tips

  • Put some money away in a safe place a little at a time.
  • Keep a list of important phone numbers.
  • Change computer passwords and telephone PIN numbers to ensure confidential information remains secure.
  • If you suspect your computer activities are being monitored, consider using a safer computer (e.g. public library, Internet cafe).
  • Get a court order of protection.
  • Teach your children how to contact police.

Remember that no matter what safety measures you take, if something happens, it is not your fault. If you are in immediate danger, phone 911. If you do not have a phone, think of the closest place to use one.

To talk to someone about creating a protection plan, contact:

  • Victim Services toll free in Manitoba at 1-866-4VICTIM (1-866-484-2846);
  • Klinic’s Sexual Assault Crisis line 1-888-292-7565;
  • Ka Ni Kanichihk’s Heart Medicine Lodge at 204-953-5820 in Winnipeg; or
  • Survivor’s Hope Crisis Centre (Interlake) at 204-753-5353.

Protective Orders (Restraining Orders)

A person who has been subjected to domestic violence or stalking can apply for a protective order under the The Domestic Violence and Stalking Act. A protective order can be a useful part of a protection plan. To learn more about protective orders, visit this page.

More Resources

English (169.9Kb PDF)
Protection Planning for people in Abusive Relationships (English)
French (139.6Kb PDF)
Protection Planning for people in Abusive Relationships (French)
Arabic (308.8Kb PDF)
Protection Planning for people in Abusive Relationships (Arabic)
Mandarin (283.5Kb PDF)
Protection Planning for people in Abusive Relationships (Mandarin)
Cree (187.11Kb PDF)
Protection Planning for people in Abusive Relationships (Cree)
German (429.9Kb PDF)
Protection Planning for people in Abusive Relationships (German)
Ojibwe (139.5Kb PDF)
Protection Planning for people in Abusive Relationships (Ojibwe)
Punjabi (282.8Kb PDF)
Protection Planning for people in Abusive Relationships (Punjabi)
Spanish (438.3Kb PDF)
Protection Planning for people in Abusive Relationships (Spanish)
Tagalog (146.7 PDF)
Protection Planning for people in Abusive Relationships (Tagalog)