As Peace Over Violence in Los Angeles points out in Understanding Intimate Partner Abuse In Runaway & Homeless Youth:
Traditional safety planning isn’t responsive to youths’ needs and experiences: Current approaches to safety planning are based on a victim profile that is often not reflective of homeless youth. Traditional safety planning recommendations rely heavily on the use of domestic violence shelters and restraining orders, which may not be available to or appropriate for homeless youth. Few of the existing safety planning options offer any real protection to homeless youth.
Safety planning should occur with any and every youth victim of violence that discloses or gives an advocate reason to believe that an unsafe relationship exists. The plan should focus on both keeping the youth safe while he/she is at the program as well as in the community. The HHYP program offers the following guidance in Addressing Intimate Partner Abuse in Runaway and Homeless Youth: A Practical Guide for Service Providers:
This plan needs to take into consideration the following questions:
- Is the youth safe residing at or accessing services at your agency? If not, explore options for safe places for the youth to be during the day and at night
- Are both partners served at the agency? If so [additional considerations come into play.] See Section 3 on page 7, “Providing services to couples at your agency” to determine if your agency can continue to serve both partners.
- If the youth is not living in a shelter or residential program, are there ways to protect the youth’s safety on the street?
- Will the youth accept a referral to a DV shelter for immediate safe and confidential housing? (Ensure that you have relationships with the DV shelters in your community, and know the ones that are interested in serving youth. Note that this may not be an option for minor youth.)
The steps and guidelines of a safety plan should increase victim safety, reduce risk factors, and be prepared prior to the occurrence of another incidence of violence or harm.
Safety planning should not be construed to place responsibility for future violence on the victim, but it should assist a victim of domestic violence or intimate partner violence in exploring realistic, viable options and responses to threats of violence and/or abuse. It is typical that as victim’s situation and circumstances change, such as moving from the streets or shelter into a safe, stable living environment, the safety plan would need to be updated to reflect the current safety needs and concerns.
Examples of online safety planning resources to assist runaway and homeless youth that are being victimized by intimate partner violence are:
Break the Cycle: about safety planning with teens
Florida Coalition Against Domestic Violence – A Teen’s Guide to Safety Planning
Futures Without Violence: Create a Teen Safety Planloveisrespect.org: Safety Planning