Online and Cell Phone Safety Planning for Youth

Online and Cell Phone Safety Planning

Safety is always at the center of our work at Battered Women’s Support Services. You may call BWSS Crisis & Intake Line at 604-687-1867 or toll free at 1-855-687-1868 for support and information.

If you are in an abusive relationship, remember that reading or researching online may also present risks, you can log off the page quickly by clicking the EXIT button on the of the page.



The following steps are my plan for increasing my safety online and on my phone.

To increase my safety, I can do (some or any of) the following

  1. I will set all my online profiles to be as private as they can be.
  2. I will save and keep track of any abusive, threatening or harassing comments or posts.
  3. I will never give my password to anyone.
  4. I will change my usernames, email addresses, passwords and/or cell phone number if the harassment does not stop.
  5. I will delete/block any followers who harass me
  6. I will only accept friend requests/followers from people I know
  7. I will not share my phone number or home address on my profile
  8. I will report fake profiles
  9. I will only post things that I am comfortable with the public seeing
  10. If someone posts a private photo of me online without my permission I will: report it to the police, tell a teacher/counselor, tell a parent/ guardian, call a crisis line, report online, other: ___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
  11. I will not answer calls or text messages from unknown, or blocked numbers.
  12. I will see if my phone company can block my abusive partners’ phone number from calling my phone.
  13. When he calls and I feel threatened I will: (Screen your calls with voice mail?)(Change your phone number?) _________________________________________________________
  14. I will save any information that suggests a violent threat
  15. If I choose to contact the police I will do my best to provide specific details such as any tangible evidence collected.
  16. Telephone Numbers I Need to Know:

RCMP/ Local Police Department: _______________________________

Counselor: _______________________________

Victim Service Worker: _______________________________

Battered Women’s Programs: _______________________________

Crisis Line: _______________________________

Work Number: _______________________________

Lawyer: _______________________________

Other: _______________________________

You can download Personalized Safety Plan here.

  If you could do something to end violence against girls and women, wouldn’t you?



Help End Violence Against Women

Prevention and Intervention Training Program 2013

BWSS Violence Prevention and Intervention Training 2013Twice a year BWSS offers training for women who want to volunteer on our Crisis and Intake line to provide crisis support to women survivors of violence.
Participants will learn:

  • Crisis Intervention
  • Peer Counselling and Communication
  • Theoretical Framework of Violence Against Women
  • Group Facilitation and Group Design
  • Criminal, Family and Immigration Law
  • Anti-Oppression Analysis
  • Safety Planning
  • and more…

Information sessions:

Tuesday, July 30th • 6:00pm
Thursday, August 1st • 3:30pm

Training Session:

September 20th to December 6th
To Register or for more information call
Emma at 604 687 1868 ext. 312
or email:

Join Battered Women’s Support Services

and provide support to women survivors of violence on our Crisis and Intake line, facilitate support groups for women survivors of violence, work in our retail program, deliver workshops for youth, participate in special projects.


Personalized Safety Plan

Your safety plan is an adaptable tool to help keep you safe in your ever-changing situation.

Violence against women continues as an epidemic. Planning for safety can be one way to take back power in abusive relationships. Although you can’t control an intimate partners use of violence, planning for safety can help you evaluate, define options and opportunities for liberation and safety.

If you’re in an abusive relationship, the risk of lethal violence increases during or just after a woman has left an abusive partner, therefore planning for safety is critical. A personalized safety plan is a practical plan that includes ways to remain safe while in a relationship, planning to leave, or after you leave.

Safety During A Violent Incident

We cannot always avoid violent incidents. In order to increase safety, we may use a variety of strategies. I can use some or all of the following strategies:

  1. I will use my judgment and intuition. If the situation is very serious, I can give my partner what they want to calm him/her down. I have to protect myself until I/we are out of danger.
  2. When I expect we are going to have an argument, I will try to move to a space that has fewer risks, such as __________________________. (Try to avoid arguments in the bathroom, garage, kitchens, near weapons, or in rooms without access to an outside door.)
  3. If violence is unavoidable, I will make myself a small target. By going to a corner and curling up into a ball with my face protected and arms around each side of my head.
  4. I will try to avoid areas where my children are, as my partner may hurt them as well.
  5. If I decide to leave, I will _________________________________. (Practice how to get out safely, practice with your children as well. What doors, windows, elevators, stairwells, or fire escapes would I use?)
  6. I will use _________________ as my code word with my children or my friends so they can call for help.
  7. I will plan for what I will do if my children tell my partner about the plan or if my partner otherwise finds out about my plan.
  8. Let trusted friends and neighbors know of your situation and develop a plan and visual signal for when you need help. I can tell _________________________________ about the violence and request they call the police if they hear suspicious noises coming from my house.
  9. I can keep my purse and car keys ready and put them _______________________ (place)in order to leave quickly. If I drive, I will make a habit of backing the car into the driveway and keeping it fueled.
  10. If I have to leave my home, I will go _________________________. (Decide this even if I do not think there will be a next time.) If I cannot go to the location above, then I can go to_________________________________________ or _________________________________________.
Safety When Preparing to Leave

Risk of harm and violence often escalates when a woman decides to leave an abusive relationship. I can use some or all of the following


  1. I will leave money and an extra set of keys with ___________________________ so I can leave quickly.
  2. I will keep copies of important documents or keys.
  3. To increase my independence, I will open an individual savings account by
  4. _______________________ (date), or I will find a safe place to hide cash.
  5. Other things I can do to increase my independence include:_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
  6. Battered Women’s Support Services number is 1-855-687-1868. I can seek a transition house by calling Victim Link 1-800-563-0808. I will call ahead of time to find out the procedure for admission to the transition house.
  7. I will check with ____________________________________ and________________________ to see who would be able to let me stay with them or lend me some money.
  8. I can leave extra clothes with _________________________________.
  9. I will sit down and review my safety plan every ______________________ (no more than six weeks) in order to plan the safest way to leave the residence.
  10. _____________________________ (an advocate or friend) has agreed to help me review this plan.


Safety Planning During Pregnancy

Pregnancy can be an especially dangerous time for women in abusive relationships, and abuse often begins or escalates during the pregnancy.

How can you get help?

  1. If you’re pregnant, there is always a heightened risk during violent situations. If I live in a home with stairs, I will try to stay on the first floor.
  2. If I am being attacked I will lay on the floor in the fetal position with my arms around my stomach.  
  3. If I feel safe to do so, I will tell my doctor during a visit. If my partner goes to these appointments with me, I will try to find a moment when they’re out of the room to ask about creating an excuse to talk to the doctor/nurse alone.
Safety Planning with Children
  1. I will teach my children how to use the telephone to contact 911 (Be careful about placing responsibility on children.)
  2. I will instruct them to leave the home if possible when things begin to escalate, and provide a safe option of where they can go (ie neighbor’s house or family members)
  3. I will teach them to never intervene even though they may want to protect me.
  4. We will create a list of people that they are comfortable talking with and expressing themselves to.

Planning for Unsupervised Visits

If you have separated from the abusive partner and are concerned for your children’s’ safety when they visit your ex, developing a safety plan for while they are visiting can be beneficial.

  1. Come up with ways that your children can stay safe using the same model as you would for your own home. Have them identify where they can get to a phone, how they can leave the house, and who they can go to (if they are old enough).
  2. Give a cell phone to your children when they go for visits that could be used in case of an emergency.
  3. Avoid exchanging custody at your home or your partner’s home.
  4. Meet in a safe, public place such as coffee shop or restaurant
  5. Bring a friend or relative with you to the exchanges, or have them make the exchange if it’s an option.
Safety Planning with Pets

Many women are not able to escape their abusive partners because they are concerned about what will happen to their pets when they leave.

If you’re creating a safety plan of your own to leave an abusive relationship, safety planning for your pets is important as well. If possible, don’t leave pets alone with an abusive partner. If you are planning to leave, talk to friends, family or your veterinarian about temporary care for your pet.

  1. Bring food for them if you can
  2. Copies of their medical records
  3. Important phone numbers, like their veterinarian
  4. Contact transition houses to see if they will allow you to bring your pets
  5. If you’ve left your partner, change your pet’s veterinarian and avoid leaving pets outside alone.
  6. If you’ve had to leave your pet behind with your abusive partner, it might be an option to ask police for assistance.
Safety Planning After You Have Left
  1. I can change the locks on my doors and windows as soon as possible.
  2. I can replace wooden doors with steel/metal doors.
  3. I can install security systems including additional locks, window bars (not generally recommended due to fire escape hazards), poles to wedge against doors, an electronic system, etc.
  4. I can purchase rope ladders (“fire ladders” are available from hardware and discount stores) to be used for escape from second floor windows.
  5. I can install smoke detectors and purchase fire extinguishers for each floor in my house/apartment.
  6.  I can install an outside lighting system that lights up when a person is coming close to my house (motion detectors).
  7. Teach your children to tell you if someone is at the door and to not answer the door on their own.
  8. Keep your no contact order near you at all times, if you have one.
  9. I will tell people who take care of my children which people have permission to pick up my children and that my partner is not permitted to do so. Some will require a court order. The people I will inform about pick -up include: school, day care, baby sitter, neighbor.
  10. Put your kitchen utensils and knife block in the cupboards so they are not as accessible.
Safety with a Protective Order

I recognize that I may need to ask the police and the courts to enforce my Protective Order. The following are some steps that I can take to help the enforcement of my Protective Order:

  1. I will keep my Protective Order (and/or probation orders or other such legal documents) __________________________________ (location). (Always keep it on or near my person. If I change purses that is the first thing that should go in it.)
  2. The telephone number for the Crown Counsel and local law enforcement agency is _______________.
  3. I can call Battered Women’s Support Services if I am not sure about protection orders, or if I have some problems with my Protective Order. The number to call is 1-855-687-1868
  4. I will inform my employer, my closest friend, and _____________________________ (other) that I have a Protective Order in effect. (I may give them copies, too.)
  5. If my partner violates the Protective Order, I can call the police and report a violation, contact the Crown Counsel, and/or call my advocate. (Make sure it gets documented!!!) If the police do not help, I can contact my advocate or Watch Commander at the Police Department to file a complaint. My advocate’s name is ______________________ and phone number is _________________. The Crown Counsel’s name is ____________________and phone number is ____________________.
Safety in the Workplace

It’s up to you to decide if and when you will tell others that that you experiencing violence in your intimate relationship and that you may be at continued risk. Friends, family, and coworkers can help support you. You should consider carefully which people to invite to help secure your safety.

I might do any or all of the following:

  1. I can inform my boss, the security supervisor, and ______________________________(other) at work of my situation.
  2. I can ask _____________________________ to help screen my telephone calls at work.
  3. When leaving work, I can __________________ _____________________________.
  4. When driving home, if problems occur, I can_____________________________________________.
  5. If I use public transit, I can ____________ _____________________________.
  6. I can use different grocery stores and shopping malls to conduct my business and shop at hours that are different from those hours in which I shopped when I resided with my abusive partner
  7. I will always remember to be careful and watchful of my surroundings.
Safety and Drug or Alcohol Use

The use of any alcohol or other drugs can reduce a woman’s awareness and ability to act quickly to protect herself. Furthermore, the use of alcohol or other drugs by the batterer may give him/her an excuse to use violence. Therefore, in the context of drug or alcohol use, a woman needs to make specific safety plans. If drug or alcohol use has occurred in my relationship.

 I can enhance my safety by doing some or all of the following:

  1. If I am going to use, I can do so in a safe place and with people who understand the risk of violence and are committed to my safety.
  2. I can also _________________________________________________.
  3. If my partner is using, I can _____________________________.
  4. To safeguard my children, I might ________________________________________ .
Safety and My Emotional Health

The experience of violence is usually exhausting and emotionally draining. The process of building a new life for myself takes MUCH COURAGE AND INCREDIBLE ENERGY.

To conserve my emotional energy and resources and to avoid hard emotional times, I can do some of the following:

  1. If I feel down and ready to return to a potentially abusive situation, I can ______________________________________ and ___________________________________.
  2. When I have to communicate with my partner in person or by telephone, I can ______________________________________ and ___________________________________.
  3. I can try to use “I can …” statements with myself and to be assertive with others.
  4. I can tell myself “__________________________________________” whenever I feel others are trying to control me.
  5. I can read ___________________________________________ to help me feel stronger.
  6. I can call ____________________________________, __________________________________, and _____________________________ as other resources to be of support to me.
  7. Other things I can do to help myself feel stronger are ______________________________________ and_______________________________________.
  8. I can take care of myself by _____________________________________________________.
  9. I can attend workshops and support groups at Battered Women’s Support Services or: or: to gain support and strengthen my relationships with other people.
Things to Have Prepared To Take With You


  1. Driver’s license
  2. Birth certificate and children’s birth certificates
  3. Social security card
  4. Money and/or credit cards
  5. Banking information

Legal Papers

  1. Protective order(s)
  2. Copies of any lease or rental agreements, or the deed to your home
  3. Car registration and insurance papers
  4. Health and life insurance papers
  5. Passport
  6. Divorce and custody papers

Emergency Numbers

  1. Local police
  2. Battered Women’s Support Services, 1-855-687-1868 or your local organization
  3. Friends, relatives and family members
  4. Family doctor


  1. Medications
  2. Extra set of house and car keys
  3. Pictures and sentimental items
  4. Several changes of clothes for you and your children
  5. Emergency money

When Women Became Victims Series – Risk Assessment E-Learnings

When Women Became Victims

Risk Assessment E-Learnings


by Angela Marie MacDougall

At Battered Women’s Support Services, we have been looking for and attempting to create accessible resources and training for front line anti-violence workers.  We have been developing Strategic Interventions and looking at different models from other regions around the world.  A women’s coalition in Ontario has developed accessible training and other resources for their members.

OAITH is a provincial coalition founded by women’s advocates in 1977.  Their membership includes community based women’s service organizations, first and second stage transition houses.  As a coalition of women’s serving organizations they work to educate and promote change in all areas that abused women and their children identify to their freedom from violence.  We appreciated that the coalition comfortably declares that they operate from an integrated, feminist, anti-oppression perspective on violence against women, recognizing that violence and abuse against women and children occurs as a result of unequal power and status of women and children in society.  They highlight that racism and oppression of women is a form of violence.  They advocate for the strong inclusion of women who access services to inform service delivery and related policies.

Their commitments appear on their website and summarized here:

  • Removing barriers to equality for all women and children
  • Ensuring the voices and experiences of all abused women are heard when working for social change
  • Increasing awareness through education, public advocacy and empowerment for OAITH members agencies
  • Assisting agencies in offering support and services to women
  • Offering training of OAITH members
  • Working with equality-seeking allies in the community to end all forms of violence and oppression of women.

Compare and Contrast Context – Ontario and British Columbia
After reviewing the domestic homicides of Arlene May in 1996 and Gillian Hadley in 2000, Ontario prioritized risk and threat assessments for law enforcement and related systems as well as co-ordinated approaches between all working with domestic violence cases.  A conference was held in Hamilton, Ontario in 2010 Reducing the Risk of Lethal Violence.  Collaboration in Threat Assessment and Risk Management from Theory to Practice.  This prompted OAITH to develop E-Learning resources for front line anti-violence workers, working in community-based women’s organizations, first and second stage transition houses. 

In British Columbia, the BC Domestic Violence Action Plan was created and the  Violence Against Women in Relationships Policy was amended December 2010 with risk assessment and evidence based risk assessment investigations leading the way forward.   The plan and the revision were prepared through consultations between the BC ministries of Public Safety and Solicitor General, Attorney General and Children and Family Development with an emphasis on integrated services, that is, the need for a coordinated response to domestic violence among all agencies involved including referral to community-based victim service organizations where they exist.   The ministries identified the need for change following the Lee/Park coroner’s inquest and the Representative for Children and Youth’s report on the death of Christian Lee.  Christian Lee, his mother Sunny Yong Sun Park, and his maternal grandparents, Kum Lea Chun and Moon Kyu Park were killed by his father in 2007.  


Here are the suggested joint recommendations to the coroners jury, very thoroughly developed by OAITH and the Metropolitan Action Committee on Violence Against Women and Children (METRAC) from July 1998 regarding the domestic homicide of Arlene May.

Here is the report to the chief coroner of British Columbia on Findings and Recommendations of the Domestic Violence Death Review Panel, May 2010 prepared by BC Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General.

The Risk Assessment E-Learning Modules for Front-line Anti-Violence Advocates

OAITH has prepared four modules for front-line anti-violence advocates: Feminist Analysis of Risk and Risk Assessment, Justice System Perspective on Risk Assessment Tools, Risk Assessment in Partnership with Women, and Safety and Advocacy Planning. 

It was encouraging to see OAITH attention to a Feminist Analysis of Risk and Risk Assessment module.  This module is very validating of the work of women’s anti violence advocates over the years.  In particular, the module examines current risk assessment practices which have largely been designed for law enforcement, legal systems and health systems which place the women at the centre as victim with the service providers surrounding her as experts.  The application of a feminist analysis of risk and risk assessment was refreshing.  The module encourages reviewing concepts of risk empowering front line anti-violence workers to analyze and develop models that make sense for the women they serve and the work in their communities.  The module details what risk assessments can and can’t do.

The Justice System Perspective on Risk Assessment Tools module provides an important overview and feminist analysis of the justice system risk assessment tools.  The module is de-mystifying, defining the difference between safety, threat, lethality and risk assessments, provides an inventory of spousal violence risk assessment tools including SARA and B-Safer developed by forensic psychologists Randy Kropp and Steven Hart and popular with police services in BC. 

The module includes Danger Assessment by Jacquelyn Campbell, Danger Assessment 2004 and a website dedicated to Danger Assessment that can be completed with women.  The module provides information for front line anti violence workers supporting women going through the risk assessment process with police services and legal/justice systems.  Women Abuse Council of Toronto has High Risk Assessment Training by Jacquelyn Campbell on their website. 

Risk Assessment in Partnership with Women module provides an overview of how front-line anti-violence workers can support identify risk to strategize with women, emphasizing that risk assessment shouldn’t be a mysterious process.  The module validates and recognizes that front-line anti-violence advocates have always conducted risk assessments if not in a standardized and/or formalized way.  

Safety and Advocacy Planning module examines how anti-violence workers can work with women to create safety and advocacy plans and it reviews safety plans available online.  The module includes a section on safety planning with children by Lundy Bancroft.  The Safety Not Justice section of the module has critical significance to our front-line anti-violence work in BC presently.

Risk Assessment and Big “A” Advocacy

The four modules validate the broad based advocacy that feminist advocates do all the time.  Our detractors often challenge our work by suggesting that we have no proof for the claims we make based on our work with women.  In reality in the past two decades women’s advocates have rarely had the time or resources to conduct research, additionally, we may not have felt empowered to embark on systemic and institutional advocacy, believing it was some other organization’s responsibility, not within our mandate or too daunting.  Risk assessment provides an opportunity for our front-line advocacy because we collect loads of anecdotal information that if organized effectively can be identified as research.  Risk assessment provides an opportunity where our work with women can help us identify systemic and social issues that as feminist advocates we can attempt to address with our broad-based advocacy.  That through identifying the facts, the consequences and the possible solutions so the data collected through risk assessments can assist us with our larger systemic and institutional advocacy.  At Battered Women’s Support Services we have used this process to do the systemic and institutional advocacy with the increasing instances of battered women arrests.  In the first half of this month we have seen four new cases representing a 200% jump in referrals.  In advance of the adoption of the White Paper on Family Relations Act:  Reform for new Family Law Act, Battered Women’s Support Services is identifying areas for systemic and institutional advocacy. 

Substance Use and Harm Reduction

Substance use and Harm Reduction in women’s services,  transition house/shelter service provision has been a challenging service delivery issue in BC and Ontario for some time.  There has been much debate and in some aspects has created polarized political positioning within the transition house and shelter providers.  OAITH has produced “Safe For All” Harm Reduction training video for front line service providers particularly transition houses/shelters, who may be thinking about harm reduction and policy development.  The video looks at safety, stigma, trauma and parenting policies also.   The video is a good starting place for anyone looking for information on harm reduction and violence against women.  Battered Women’s Support Services is examining current research and has developed training curricula on the harm reduction continuum and working with women survivors of violence.


If you are a woman dealing with intimate partner violence and/or you’re working in a community based women’s organization, community-based victim service organization, first or second stage transition house in British Columbia or if you are an interested community member in any region, we would love to hear your thoughts on this post and the resources presented here.  Please comment here or email us at


Here is a previous instalment in this series Social Justice vs Criminal Justice