Safety Planning and Other Resources
Crime victims’ safety is a top priority for SCVAN. Whether you are a victim of domestic violence, stalking, or any other violent crime, it is important to take steps to protect your safety. We can help you obtain restraining orders and other legal protections. We also have provided other helpful resources relating to victims' rights during the criminal process.
- Select two close friends or family members you can stay with in the event of an emergency and develop an emergency plan with them.
- Build up a cash reserve and store the money in a place where the perpetrator is unlikely to look.
- Determine what property and debt you share with the perpetrator.
- Open a personal bank account and transfer your money to it, including paychecks.
- If you don’t have a job, seek training and update your resume. For assistance, visit SC Works.
- Change passwords on all electronic accounts, including email and social media.
- Disable location services on devices and apps, including SnapChat and FindFriends.
- Remember that a perpetrator who shares your cell phone account may access your billing records, including lists of calls and texts.
- Immediately change all computer and online account passwords.
- Install security features in your home. If the perpetrator has ever had a key to your home, change the locks on all doors.
- Tell neighbors that the perpetrator does not live in your home and ask them to call the Police if they see the perpetrator nearby.
- Protect personal information including address, employer, and children’s schools.
- Notify the children’s schools or daycare about the situation.
- Change your routine: shop, bank, and conduct business at places you did not visit with the perpetrator.
- Keep diaries, journals, personal letters, and calendars in a safe place outside of the home.
- If you have a restraining order, keep copies in several places, including your vehicle, handbag, and house. Give copies to close family and friends.
- Keep money, a spare set of keys, and a “go bag” somewhere safe or at a trusted friend or family member’s house, in case you need to leave quickly.
- Select a close friend or family member you can stay with in the event of an emergency.
- Avoid contact from the perpetrator, screen telephone calls, and avoid opening mail without a return address.
5 Steps: Safety Planning When Sheltering in Place with a Perpetrator
These are recommended safety planning steps. These recommendations may not apply in all situations. Contact SCVAN's Legal Department for information on restraining orders.
- 911: If there is an emergency where you or a member of your household is in immediate danger, call 911. Use a landline if possible, as it will provide an address to dispatchers even if you are not able to speak.
- Emergency Contact: Select two close friends or family members to act as emergency contacts who you can stay with in the event of an emergency and develop an emergency plan with them. This plan should include a safe method of communication in case of emergency, as well as a safe meeting place.
- Code Words: Establish a “code word” you can text to your emergency contacts if you need assistance leaving your abuser. This could be an emoji you never use, or it could be a brief phrase like “You up?” or “Is it raining over there?”
- Save Money: Start saving money. If you go to the store to buy essential items, purchase gift cards that you can keep in a safe place in case of emergency.
- Safeguard Phone: Regularly clear your Internet browser history, and if possible, keep your phone locked and protected by fingerprint or facial recognition scanning.
- Limit emails, texts, and social media that you would not want the perpetrator to have access to - remember, all written communication can be preserved by the viewer.
- Do not accept friend requests from people you do not know well and remove followers that you do not know personally.
- If someone makes a dangerous or threatening post on any form of social media, including SnapChat, take a screenshot and go to law enforcement.
- Check privacy settings on apps and social media to make sure that your location is not public.
- Keep personal information private. Do not make public posts about occupation, school, or relationship status.
- When posting pictures or videos online, be mindful of landmarks, school logos, and other information that may be unintentionally shared in the picture’s background.
- Immediately change all passwords, including social media, bank accounts, online shopping websites, and your cell phone.
- Never share passwords with anyone (including family members, close friends, or significant others).
- Use private browsing mode when using the internet from your phone or computer. Routinely remove cookies and clear browsing history. Change passwords frequently.
We've created these guides for victims and victim service providers to explain when and how information can be obtained through subpoenas. Click on the PDF thumbnails below to view the full packets on civil or criminal subpoenas.
Quick Reference Guide: Crime Victims’ Privacy, Confidentiality, and Privilege
Dance like nobody’s watching, email like it will one day be read aloud in a deposition
|Concept||I have a right to decide who knows my personal information.||You have a duty to protect my information.||You cannot be forced to share that information.|
Individuals control what happens to their personal information.
By freely sharing your personal information with the public, you can waive your privacy interest.
Third parties may have a duty of confidentiality. This duty applies to healthcare professionals, religious advisors, and legal representatives.
The consequences for breaching this duty are professional, not criminal.
Privilege is held by the third party who is called to testify.
For example, if a husband is called to testify against his wife, the husband gets to choose whether he will testify or raise the privilege.
|Exceptions Include*||A private party can be required to share otherwise-private information with third parties through subpoenas, court orders, and legally-justified searches.||Implicit authorization, preventing reasonably certain death or great bodily harm, preventing use of your services in crime or fraud; and to comply with a court order.||Party is seeking a professional’s help in planning a crime or fraud, discloses a past act with ongoing consequences, or gives physical evidence of a crime to the professional.|
At the beginning of conversations with crime victims, ask if they are alone, and in a place where they can speak freely, privately, and without interruption.
Advise against sharing personal information, and details relating to their case, with others or on social media.
Regularly train staff (including volunteers and support staff) on confidentiality and how to protect victims’ information.
There are exceptions to the duty of confidentiality. If you have questions about your duty of confidentiality, consult with an attorney associated with your practice.
Include a disclaimer in outgoing emails noting that all communications are privileged and confidential, and that the sender should immediately be notified in the communication was erroneously sent to the wrong person.
If you do not have a confidential or privileged relationship with the party, be sure that they are aware.
Teen Dating Violence Resources
- CDC - Teen Dating Violence Prevention
- That’s Not Cool
- National Center for Victims of Crime
- Love is Respect
- Break the Cycle
- Safe Space
- Level Up For Change
Dating Violence Resources
- National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV)
- National Center on Domestic Violence, Trauma, and Mental Health
- Women Against Abuse
- University of South Carolina Victim Services
- South Carolina Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault
- The National Domestic Violence Hotline
- 1-800-787-3224 (TTY)
- The National Dating Abuse Helpline
- Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network (RAINN)