Social distancing? Safety tips for women living with an abusive partner

mother and toddler

In an emergency, dial 911 for immediate assistance.

Connect with the women’s shelter in your community (you can find a list at Even if you don’t stay at the shelter, staff can provide outreach services to support you and can help you make an emergency escape plan as well as a safety plan.

Check out for safety planning tips and information about family law and family court.

Clear the call display frequently on all phones your partner might access, so he can’t see who you have been calling or receiving calls from.

Clear your browser history every time you use your computer. (See our How to page.)

Talk to a women’s counsellor about tech safety and maintaining privacy online. (See our Tech Safety Toolkit.)

Find or make a safe room in your house: this should be a room with a solid door and a lock or, if not a lock, a room in which you can move a piece of heavy furniture in front of the door. It should also have a window big enough for you to get out through if you have to.

Kitchens can be unsafe because they contain knives, heavy pots and stovetops, all of which can be used to hurt you. Bathrooms can also be unsafe because they don’t usually have a second exit. Try to stay out of these rooms during an assault or fight.

Make a list of any weapons, especially firearms, that your partner has and where they are in the house. Keep this list somewhere private but easy for you to find quickly.

If possible, carry your cell phone with you at all times, tucked away so it is hard for your abuser to take it from you. Have key telephone numbers saved on it, including any that you might need to quick dial during an assault.

If your partner is frequently physically violent towards you, avoid wearing scarves or jewellery that he could use to strangle you.

During an assault, make yourself as small as possible and, if you can, put yourself in a corner or behind or under a large piece of furniture. Try to cover your face and your chest/abdominal part of your body.

Know where every exit in your house is.

If you have a car, keep the gas tank full and back into the driveway, if possible. Have a trustworthy mechanic check the car for GPS. Keep a set of car keys somewhere secret just outside the house where you can grab them quickly if you need to. Stash some cash there, too, if you can.

If you have a neighbour you trust, ask if they can leave a key to their house somewhere safe for you in case you need to get to a safe space quickly. Tell your kids they can go to this neighbour for help at any time.

Talk to your children in a way that is age-appropriate so they can be and feel safe. Develop a code word with your kids and use that word when (and only when) you need them to dial 911 and/or run to a neighbour for help. (See children’s safety planning on