A safety plan might seem unnecessary. But it can really help. It can be hard to think clearly when someone is harassing you, so it’s important to think through what you’ll do beforehand. Even if your plan ends up seeming really basic and obvious, it will help you prepare to handle yourself well.
A safety plan can be essentially whatever you think you may need. It could be a 42-page printed document that you carry around with you. Or it could be just a few steps that you take now to make yourself ready – for example by talking to a few people and putting some numbers into your phone.
If you want help making a safety plan, call any sexual assault centre. You can find them here.
If your circumstances at work change in a way that affects your plan, don’t forget to update it.
Things to consider for your plan
- Contact information for people you might need to reach quickly, like a boss or supervisor, HR, building security, local police, taxi services, or a friend who lives nearby. Make sure all this information is in your phone.
- Contact information for someone who can drop you off or pick you up, so you don’t have to arrive or leave work alone.
- Names of people at work you trust, who you can talk with about what’s happening.
- A list of tasks that you feel safe completing, so you can volunteer for them when you feel unsafe. Also, a list of tasks that you don’t feel safe completing. For example, you might not be comfortable taking trash outside or being anywhere alone. If you’re asked to do something you don’t feel safe doing, you can be ready to suggest an alternative that does feel safe.
- The harasser’s name and what they look like, in case you need to tell security, a friend, or the police. If you have their phone number, put it in your contacts so you know it’s them if they text or call.
- What the harasser’s vehicle looks like so you can tell if they follow you home. Write down the make, model, colour, and licence plate.
- The safest entrances and exits to your workplace. Learn how to open windows so you can yell for help or escape.
- A plan for what you’ll do if the harasser’s behaviours escalate. You might decide to quit your job, call the police, or to talk with your employer.
Other things you can consider to keep yourself safe
- Consider talking with the harasser directly.
- Consider talking with your employer.
- See if you can get your work hours changed so you don’t work at the same time as the harasser, or alone with them.
- Avoid socializing with the harasser, especially by yourself and especially if alcohol is involved.
- Search your phone’s app store for personal safety apps. They offer a range of functionality to help you stay safe, like fake calls you can schedule to get yourself out of uncomfortable situations, or panic buttons that send your location to friends.
- Confide in co-workers you trust so they know what’s going on and can help you, for example by distracting or shutting down the harasser.
- Set up code words with friends at work that they can use to warn you if the harasser’s approaching, or that you can use to tell them you need help.
- Befriend the security guards at your work. Learn their names and make sure they know yours.
- See if you can move to a different work location—for example, to be further away from the harasser or the men’s washroom. Or, move closer to common areas so that you are less likely to be alone.
- Keep a journal about the harasser’s behaviours. Write down anything negative that happens. Include dates, times, and the names of co-workers who were present.
- Ask your boss to install security cameras and to let everyone at work know they’re there. It’s better for the harasser to know that they will be caught and not harass you at all than for them to be caught in the act.
- Keep your phone with you, and keep it charged. If cell reception is terrible, ask for a walkie-talkie that connects you to someone on duty.
- Note the nearest exit when you enter a room.
- Check bathrooms and elevators before going in.
- Ask a security guard to walk you to your car or the transit stop.
- If you drive, keep your car doors locked. When you get to your car, only open the driver’s door.
- Park in well-lit areas near safe entrances.
- Be aware of your mental health, and take steps to keep yourself healthy.
- Build a strong support network. Even if you already have a good group of friends and family, it can really help to seek support from professionals and from other people who’ve been harassed.