Why court safety planning matters

This webinar examines key safety issues for women leaving an abusive relationship from the time the woman begins to consider separation, throughout the separation and family law processes and beyond. We will look at both physical and emotional safety issues, legal steps women can take, tech safety and keeping children safe, offering tips and strategies so women and their children can be and feel as safe as possible.

This is another in the series of webinars on family law issues when there’s family violence presented by Luke’s Place in partnership with CLEO, with support from The Law Foundation of Ontario.

From the presentation: A safety plan is an individualized plan that reduces the risks of further abuse for the woman and, in many cases, her children. It should address both physical and emotional safety concerns as well as strategies for other basic needs the woman may have: income, housing, food, child care and so on.

Every woman’s safety plan will be unique, because it should be built to reflect her individual situation. A woman with no children, a supportive family nearby and who can afford to install security systems at her home will need a very different safety plan than a woman with young kids, no family close by and limited financial resources. Safety plans change over time. Sometimes, the woman’s circumstances change (children get older, she moves). Sometimes, the abuser’s circumstances change (he goes to jail or leaves the country). Sometimes, court outcomes change the situation.

Often, our minds tend to focus on physical safety, but it is important for a woman’s safety plan to also include strategies to make her as emotionally safe as possible.

She will need her plan to address how she will manage contact with her former partner when she sees him at court or when they are exchanging or discussing the children to minimize his ability to intimidate her.

Setting boundaries with the former partner is a key component of an emotional safety plan. Our resource, Family Court and Beyond contains a checklist to assist women think about boundary setting and include such suggestions as:

  • Opening a new email account to separate communication with the former partner from other communication
  • Adjust social media settings to ensure privacy
  • Arranging exchanges of the children away from her home
  • Limiting contact with her former partner’s family

In Family Court and Beyond, you can also find a template for a woman to use when she is developing her safety plan that looks at eight aspects of a woman’s life where safety may be an issue: physical, emotional, sexual, health, financial, spiritual, housing and legal.