For many people who have been affected by sexual assault, current and long-term safety can be an ongoing concern. Safety planning is about brainstorming ways to stay safe that may also help reduce the risk of future harm. It can include planning for a future crisis, considering your options, and making decisions about your next steps. Finding ways to stay and feel safer can be an important step towards healing, and these plans and actions should not increase the risk of being hurt.
Safety planning when someone is hurting you:
- Lean on a support network. Having someone you can reach out to for support can be an important part of staying safe and recovering. Find someone you trust who could respond to a crisis if you needed their help.
- Become familiar with safe places. Learn more about safe places near you such as a local domestic violence shelter or a family member’s house. Learn the routes and commit them to memory. Find out more about sexual assault service providers in your area that can offer support.
- Stay safe at home. If the person hurting you is in your home, you can take steps to feel safer. Try hanging bells or a noise maker on your door to scare the person hurting you away, or sleep in public spaces like the living room. If possible, keep the doors inside your house locked or put something heavy in front of them. If you’re protecting yourself from someone who does not live with you, keep all the doors locked when you’re not using them, and install an outside lighting system with motion detectors. Change the locks if possible.
- Keep computer safety in mind. If you think someone might be monitoring your computer use, consider regularly clearing your cache, history, and cookies. You could also use a different computer at a friend’s house or a public library.
- Create a code word. It might be a code between you and your children that means “get out,” or with your support network that means “I need help.”
- Prepare an excuse. Create several plausible reasons for leaving the house at different times or for existing situation that might become dangerous. Have these on hand in case you need to get away quickly.
Safety planning when someone is stalking you:
- Tell someone you trust. Stalking shouldn’t be kept a secret. Tell your parents, loved ones, a trusted adult, or the local police to determine if a report can be made.
- Be prepared to reach out. If possible, keep your cell phone charged and have emergency contact numbers programmed ahead of time. You may want to save these contacts under a different name. Memorize a few numbers in case you don’t have cell phone access in the future.
- Change your routine. Be aware of your daily routine and begin to alter it overtime. Switch up the way you commute more often, taking different routes or different modes of transportation.
Visit the Stalking Resource Center for more ways to stay safe.
Safety planning when leaving the person hurting you:
- Make an escape bag. Pack a bag that includes all important papers and documents, such as your birth certificate, license, passport, social security card, bills, prescription drugs, and medical records. Include cash, keys, and credit cards. Hide the bag well. If it’s discovered, call it a “hurricane bag” or “fire bag.” If you are escaping with children, include their identifying information as well.
- Prepare your support network. Keep your support network in the loop. Let them know how to respond if the perpetrator contacts them.
- Plan a destination. If you’re not going to stay with someone you know, locate the nearest domestic violence shelter or homeless shelter.
- Plan a route. Then plan a backup route. If you are driving, have a tank of gas filled at all times. If you rely on public transportation, know the routes departure times. Many public transportation systems have mobile apps that update their schedules and arrival times.
- Important Safety Note: If the dangerous situation involves a partner, go to the police or a shelter first.
If you are in a domestic violence situation and need help, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 800.799.SAFE(7233). You can also visit their website to learn more about safety planning.
You have a crucial role to play in keeping your friends safe. No matter what the setting, if you see something that doesn’t feel quite right or see someone who might be in trouble, there are some simple things you can do to help out a friend.
Distract. If you see a friend in a situation that doesn’t feel quite right, create a distraction
to get your friend to safety. This can be as simple as joining or redirecting the conversation: suggest to your friend that you leave the party, or ask them to walk you home. Try asking questions like: “Do you want to head to the bathroom with me?” or “Do you want to head to another party – or grab pizza?”
Step in. If you see someone who looks uncomfortable or is at risk, step in. If you feel
safe, find a way to de-escalate the situation and separate all parties involved. Don’t be shy
about directly asking the person if they need help or if they feel uncomfortable.
Enlist others. You don’t have to go it alone. Call in friends or other people in the area
as reinforcements to help defuse a dangerous situation and get the at-risk person home safely. There is safety in numbers.
Keep an eye out. Use your eyes and ears to observe your surroundings. If you
see someone who has had too much to drink or could be vulnerable, try to get them to a safe place. Enlist friends to help you. Even if you weren’t around when the assault occurred, you can still support a friend in the aftermath.
How to Respond to a Survivor
When someone you care about tells you they’ve been sexually assaulted or abused, it can be a lot to handle. A supportive reaction can make all the difference, but that doesn’t mean it comes easy. Encouraging words and phrases avoid judgment and show support for the survivor. Consider these phrases:
- “I’m sorry this happened.” Acknowledge that the experience has affected their life. Phrases like “This must be really tough for you,” and, “I’m so glad you are sharing this with me,” help to communicate empathy.
- “It’s not your fault.” Survivors may blame themselves, especially if they know the perpetrator personally. Remind the survivor, maybe even more than once, that they are not to blame.
- “I believe you.” It can be extremely difficult for survivors to come forward and share their story. They may feel ashamed, concerned that they won’t be believed, or worried they’ll be blamed. Leave any “why” questions or investigations to the experts—your job is to support this person. Be careful not to interpret calmness as a sign that the event did not occur—everyone responds differently. The best thing you can do is to believe them.
- “You are not alone.” Remind the survivor that you are there for them and willing to listen to their story. Remind them there are other people in their life who care and that there are service providers who will be able to support them as they recover from the experience.
- “Are you open to seeking medical attention?” The survivor might need medical attention, even if the event happened a while ago. You can support the survivor by offering to accompany them or find more information. It’s ok to ask directly, “Are you open to seeking medical care?”
- “You can trust me.” If a survivor opens up to you, it means they trust you. Reassure them that you can be trusted and will respect their privacy. Always ask the survivor before you share their story with others. If a minor discloses a situation of sexual abuse, you are required in most situations to report the crime. Let the minor know that you have to tell another adult, and ask them if they’d like to be involved.
- “This doesn’t change how I think of you.” Some survivors are concerned that sharing what happened will change the way other people see them, especially a partner. Reassure the survivor that surviving sexual violence doesn’t change the way you think or feel about them.
There’s no timetable when it comes to recovering from sexual violence. If someone trusted you enough to disclose the event, consider the following ways to show your continued support.
- Check in periodically. The event may have happened a long time ago, but that doesn’t mean the pain is gone. Check in with the survivor to remind them you still care about their well-being and believe their story.
- Avoid judgment. It can be difficult to watch a survivor struggle with the effects of sexual assault for an extended period of time. Avoid phrases that suggest they’re taking too long to recover such as, “You’ve been acting like this for a while now,” or “How much longer will you feel this way?”
- Remember that the healing process is fluid. Everyone has bad days. Don’t interpret flashbacks, bad days, or silent spells as “setbacks.” It’s all part of the process.
- Know your resources You’re a strong supporter, but that doesn’t mean you’re equipped to manage someone else’s health. Become familiar with resources you can recommend to a survivor, like the National Sexual Assault Hotline 800.656.HOPE (4673) and online.rainn.org.
Deena Stewart-Hitzke – Will be down every other week for one on one and group therapy.
Provide free counseling for Healing Hands of Arizona
DESCRIPTION OF SOME SERVICES OFFERED/AREAS OF SPECIALTY
- Coordinate counseling, case management, and advocacy services for adults, 55 and older, related to a history of abuse, neglect, or exploitation in their lives or in the lives of their loved ones.
- Generate grant and philanthropic funding to expand the provision of services for marginalized older adults, in collaboration with and support of other providers.
- Foster resiliency, independence, hope, and healing by implementing counseling for empowerment and best practice advocacy models.
- Work closely with The Atty. General’s office, law enforcement, prosecuting attorney’s offices, victim advocates, the court systems, and multiple nonprofit organizations to develop a coordinated multi-systems community response to the legal, housing, nutritional, medical, emotional, and transportation needs of crime victims, regardless of their desire to pursue justice.
- Assist crime victims in preparing for court emotionally , accompanying them to both criminal and civil proceedings, and helping them to navigate various Government, court, religious, nonprofit, and corporate institutions.
- Facilitate support groups to mobilize survivors toward collective action in challenging the status quo, anonymously sharing their experience, strength, and hope.
- Honor the expertise of survivors by engaging them in the processes of brainstorming resolutions to widespread isolation, experiences of discrimination, and other social and political factors contributing to their vulnerability for abuse, enhancing the protective capacity of older adults through the development of their own initiatives, natural supports, and safety planning.
- Coordinate professional training for educators, therapists, and public administrators, resulting in survey research that shows enhancements in productivity, quality, and organizational culture.
- Construct evidence-based practice guides and workbooks, resulting in the increased use of effective interventions and teaching methods.
- Develop initiatives and grant proposals for the advancement of public education and higher education accessibility, resulting in an increased enrollment and successful completion of coursework.
Faye Hoese – Call to make an appointment, (520) 468-6758 mention you found her on Healing Hands of Arizona.
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Provide counseling for children, adolescents, adults, families, couples.
DESCRIPTION OF SOME SERVICES OFFERED/AREAS OF SPECIALTY
- Children (ages two – eighteen years)
- Emotionally Disabled (school special education diagnosis)
- Asperger’s Syndrome – skills for school/social success
- Behaviorally Challenged
- School/legal issues including adolescent probation
- Victims of Abuse/Neglect
- Coping with family transition to include but not limited to:
- CPS involvement – removal/reunification/severance
- Multiple foster/family placements
- Parents in prison – incarceration & release
- Parents in military service including combat zones – deployment & return
- Parent/child conflict
- Parenting & advocating in school for children w/ADHD; Asperger’s; ED; behaviorally
- challenged; other special needs
- Parenting through transition including but not limited to:
- CPS involvement- removal/reunification/severance
- Military service including combat zones – deployment & return
- Incarceration & release
- Perpetrators of child abuse/neglect w/ or w/o CPS/legal involvement
- Other family member perpetrators of child abuse w/ or w/o CPS/legal involvement
- Death/disability/chronic/acute illness of child
- Loss related to family transition noted above
- Death of parent/sibling/close friend/classmate
- Loss related to family transition noted above
- Disability due to injury
- Chronic/acute serious illness
- Crisis Assessment/Intervention including but not limited to:
- Emergency Room assessment
- Suicide prevention/postvention
- School/community/familial violence/death/major disruption
- OTHER COUNSELING SERVICES
Domestic Violence including assessment of risk
General child/family/adult counseling including but not limited to depression & anxiety disorders