Safety Planning

Your Safety

A violation of one’s boundaries can have a huge effect on a person’s safety and sense of security. While we can’t control the actions of other people, having a good safety plan is a very important step towards regaining a sense of security. 

Whether you have had a single or ongoing experience with sexual misconduct, or whether you are in a relationship with a partner who makes you feel unsafe, safety planning is extremely helpful and important. As our brains do not tend to function as normal in times of crisis, having a structured plan thought out ahead of time can help you to protect yourself.  

Safety plans should be tailored to fit the circumstances of your situation. If you are in an unsafe/abusive relationship, your plan may be more detailed due to the constant proximity of your partner and the higher probability of threats or danger. If they have easier access to your personal information you will want to be careful and strategic with your plan. Below are some helpful tips for safety planning: 

  • Trust your instincts. Don’t downplay the danger. If you feel you are unsafe, you probably are.  

  • Take threats seriously. Danger generally is higher when you try to leave or end the relationship.  

  • Contact CAP (503-494-3256 or 833-495-CAPS), or your local community-based advocacy center if you would like help devising a safety plan, or to find out information about getting a protective order or other safety options.  

  • Tell someone you can trust about what is happening. This person may be someone who can help provide you with support during this time or help to implement your safety plan with you. You do not have to go through this alone. It could be a friend, CAP advocate, counselor at JBT, fellow student, resident, faculty member*, dean*, or another trusted person. Keep these trusted people’s phone numbers or contact information readily available (particularly if your phone is being monitored or you may be at risk of losing it).  

*OHSU Faculty and Deans are Responsible Employees and must report disclosures of discrimination, harassment, and violence to AAEO. CAP, JBT’s Behavioral Health team and all learners at OHSU are not designated Responsible Employees and do not have to report these disclosures to AAEO. 

  • Consider telling your neighbors or on-site building manager about the situation, providing them with a photo or description of the individual and any cars they may drive if known. Ask your neighbors to call the police if they see this person, or devise a signal to use to communicate with them that you need help or to call the police.  

  • Have a code word for family and friends to signal danger. Children should know this code word as well.  

  • Let someone know where you are going, with whom, and when you expect to be back. You may also like to download the app Circle of 6, which allows you to get help from your circle of safe people.  

  • If possible, avoid areas where you might run into the person who harmed or is harming you.  

  • If possible, go to a safe place (friend/family member’s house, shelter, etc.) 

  • If it is not possible to go to a safe place outside of where the person who is harming you is, try to go to a room with an emergency exit such as a backdoor or window. Once you have determined escape routes, teach them to your children, if you have them. 

  • If you have children, arrange for them to be in a safe place. This may or may not be with you. 

  • If the person who harmed you knows your regular routes to and from classes, clinical location, or other frequented places, try to switch them up frequently so that it is harder to track you. 

  • Have a friend accompany you, if possible, or call Campus Public Safety to set up officer escort services for OHSU locations 

  • Try to stick to public areas (cafeteria, library, etc.) whenever possible. If you experience harassment, stalking, or violence in a public area, you can try to ask for help from those around you. 

  • Try to always travel with your cellphone fully charged, as well as with the charger. 

  • Try to always travel with some form of identification. 

  • Try to always travel with spare cash. 

  • Keep a bag with essential items packed in a secure location in case you have to make a hasty exit. This bag should include: important identifying documents, spare cash, some items of clothing, spare cellphone/charger, and essential toiletries. 

  • Document the abuse. 

  • If the person who harmed you has access to your bank accounts try to save money, and open a separate bank account that only you have the password for. 

  • Change usernames and passwords of your online or other accounts. Don’t log into them on any device that you think is being tracked or monitored.  

  • Disable Bluetooth and GPS on your phone if you think you are being or will be tracked.  

  • Consider getting a new phone if you think your current one is being tracked or has malware on it.  

  • Refrain from posting anything that may help someone figure out your location or places you frequent on social media. Ask your friends to not tag you or post photos of you. Review your privacy settings on your online accounts, or consider deactivating them.  

  • Consider your emotional safety as well. Try utilizing different grounding techniques until you find one or two that work well for you. Keep a reminder with you of how to complete your grounding techniques so that you can use them whenever you need.  

Links to more information on safety planning: