WORKING WITH BATTERED WOMEN: A Handbook for Health Care Professionals

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Safety Planning

Women Who Are Returning Home

Abused women who are returning home will need a list of telephone numbers of emergency and counselling services for abused women. In some cities or areas, shelters or other service providers have produced cards that contain listings of emergency numbers, shelters for abused women, and counselling programs. If none are available, you should provide the women with the name and number of the police, the closest battered women's shelter, and the name and number of any agency in your area that offers support programs for abused women. Such a list can be obtained from the Hot Peach Pages, available online, and near the front of the Saskatchewan phone books. You should review with her how the services operate so she will feel more comfortable in accessing them.

Safety Plan

It is important to ask the woman if anyone has ever talked to her about a safety plan for her and her children. A safety plan is a simple checklist that assists the woman in making necessary preparations for fast and safe escape when violence occurs. It is important to review a plan with the woman and if it is safe for her, to give her a copy to take away (see below).

  • Help the patient "problem solve" specific concerns about her safety and where she will be staying after discharge from the emergency department or after leaving your office.

  • If the patient will be returning to a living situation that may expose her to abuse in the future, recommend that she prepare a safety bag to keep hidden in a secure place such as at a friend's house or in a closet. In the bag should be items such as clothing for the woman and her children, cash for taxis and telephone calls, and important telephone numbers. Documentation such as passports, visas and birth certificates for herself and her children, legal papers, marriage license, bankbooks and insurance papers should also be taken or photocopied.

  • Discuss how the patient can protect herself during an attack, although it should be noted that this may not prevent injury. This includes calling 911 immediately, protecting the head and abdomen by curling up and placing the hands over the head, yelling loudly and continuously while being hit, ensuring in advance that a neighbour will call for help if he or she hears any sounds suggesting an attack is occurring.

Safety Brochure


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