Why are safety plans important?
Complete safety is not always possible for many of us - it is an ongoing project. Even when we have safety plans, violence may still happen. If it does, it can be hard to remind ourselves that it’s not our fault and that our safety plans are not useless.
Gender based violence is always the fault of the person causing harm, not the person being harmed.
While CCF recognizes the limitations of safety planning, we also recognize how it can be used to enhance and empower our sense of well being, and reduce the harm that is being caused. The aim of this page and the resources shared here is to give you more tools to add to your toolkit for having safer interactions online, and in real life.
Safety planning is about supporting the ways you are already keeping yourself safe and looking for ways to make yourself safer in difficult situations. From securing your email to sending details about a date to a trusted friend– we safety plan because we know that we are not always safe, we can’t always control the situations we are in, but we can help each other to try to be safer.
Safety looks different for all of us.
Maybe you need strategies to get home from class without fear, how to document violence you're navigating or tools to push back against the harms of emotional abuse. These resources are here to help guide you.
We hope this information helps you to build patterns and practices that can help you find and maintain a stronger sense of safety in your life.
You have the right to be safe, and Consent Comes First is here to help you envision and build that safety. Below, you will find a list of strategies for building safety online, at home, on campus, if you're being stalked, and for cultivating safety within yourself. The resources provided here are to help you create a personal safety plan.
If you would like more support with anything on these pages, remember: our office is here for you.
Our world continues to transition towards digital platforms every day. Consent Comes First recognizes the importance of online interactions that are not only safe but also conducive to fostering relationships and networking. You have the right to be virtually safe and free from online harassment. We will work with you to envision and build what safety looks like for you. If you are being subjected to technology-facilitated violence we are here to support you. Contact Us: firstname.lastname@example.org
What is Technology Facilitated Violence?
- Technology-facilitated violence can take many forms and spans all digital avenues. Technology can be used to harass, stalk, threaten, coerce, monitor, exploit, and violate people. We should feel safe in all spaces including digital spaces..
- There are various forms of online harassment and online sexual harassment, including:
- Sharing details about your identity, location, or other aspects of your life without consent.
- Taking screenshots, recording without your knowledge and/or publicly sharing your private photos or videos without consent.
- Threatening to leak sensitive information or photos on public platforms.
- Attacking and encouraging others to attack your identity in online groups, pages, or organizations.
- Sending you messages/requests repeatedly even after being told to stop.
- Monitoring your accounts, creating fake accounts to interact with you and harass you.
- Any other incidents that make you feel targeted, fearful for your safety, and uncomfortable.
Connect with Consent Comes First for Support
Safety planning is about supporting the ways you are already keeping yourself safe and looking for ways to make yourself safer in difficult situations. While Consent Comes First recognizes the limitations of safety planning, we also recognize how it can be used to reduce potential harm and enhance and empower our sense of well-being.
From securing your email to practising safe sexting, to sending details about a date to a trusted friend, Consent Comes First can work with you to create an online safety plan that is tailored to your specific virtual safety concerns and needs.
If you're worried about someone knowing you have visited this website, please read the following safety information at our Clear Browsing History page listed here: https://www.ryerson.ca/sexual-violence/clear-browsing-history
HeartMob has great resources to support people who are being subjected to technology facilitated violence. You can check out the resources here: https://iheartmob.org/resources, external link, opens in new window
What is house safety?
You have the right to feel safe in the space where you are living. Being safe at home means living free from mental, emotional, physical or sexual abuse. Whether you live with family, alone, or with roommates, having a space to feel safe and protected is important for rest and general wellbeing. Unfortunately, we know this is not the reality for everyone. Here are some suggestions for making your home feel safer, and a reminder that you get to decide which safety measures are helpful for you:
- Trust your instincts - you know your situation and needs best.
- Keep your doors locked at all times, and consider changing the locks to your house if your circumstances allow it.
- Talk to trusted members of your support system, such as roommates or neighbours, and let them know how they can best help or support you (whether that be checking in with them regularity)
- Place lamps near windows, or put up curtains or blankets at night to make it more difficult for someone looking in to see you.
- Create a safety action plan for who you can reach out to for support, and what strategies you can use when you are feeling unsafe.
Questions to consider when making a safety plan
- What ways do I feel safe in my home?
- What ways do I feel unsafe?
- Who are the people I trust and can contact when I am feeling unsafe?
- What supports are available to me if I need them? (e.g. community centres, Consent Comes First, the Student Support Centre, community groups, etc.)
- How can I practice self-care in times when I am feeling unsafe, but not in immediate crisis?
Note that Safety plans can change and evolve over time, and you can add or remove people from your support system as needed. Remember: you are the expert on your own life, and you have the most insight into what will work for you and your situation.
For support in safety planning, reach out to the Consent Comes First office email@example.com or external resources listed here: https://www.ryerson.ca/sexual-violence/get-support/connect-to-services/
Additional Supports and Guides
- The Scarletteen’s Safety Guide, external link, external link offers additional information for people who are living with someone who is abusive.
- This PDF filePDF fileStrategies for Staying Safer guide can help guide safety planning for people living in unsafe homes.
What is emotional safety?
Emotional safety is when you feel secure and a sense of well-being within yourself and in your relationships. Emotional safety is an important component of overall safety, but often gets overlooked. It is the foundation upon which other forms of safety also rest.
If you feel emotionally safe...
- You can be vulnerable and express your feelings and emotions openly, without fear of feeling judged, criticized or put-down.
- You are listened to actively and attentively.
- There is predictability and consistency in your relationship.
- You receive validation, and feel cared for.
- You feel a sense of physical respect and physical safety free from harm.
What if I don't feel emotionally safe around my loved ones?
Sometimes, we may not feel safety in the context of our intimate or personal relationships. In this case, we can still create emotional safety for ourselves.
- The first step starts with recognizing in which spaces, and with which people you feel emotionally safe.
- Can you recognize patterns, environmental contexts, and specific traits in others that create a sense of safety?
- Ask yourself, what makes me feel grounded and rooted?
- Cultivate self-talk that emphasizes self-compassion, and affirms your experiences, feelings and emotions.
Things to think about for your emotional safety
Sometimes when feeling overwhelmed, it can help to do an activity that helps you stay grounded. The image fileimage filefive senses grounding activity, external link, external link is a way to incorporate your five senses (touch, smell, see, taste, and hear) to stay focused in the present moment.
You can also create a sensory self-soothing kit, external link, external link for those moments when you are experiencing a powerful emotional trigger and want to feel more regulated.
Feeling emotionally safe all the time can be difficult in a world that does not acknowledge and make room for our emotions. Sometimes taking care of yourself can just mean incorporating simple ways PDF filePDF fileto nourish your mind, body and soul everyday, external link, external link.
What is safety on campus?
Safety on campus refers to your physical safety, but also a sense of emotional and mental well-being. All students have the right to feel safe on campus. Here are some tips to consider for personal physical and emotional safety on campus.
Safety tips for emotional and physical safety on campus
- Trust your instincts, if something feels odd or “not right” in your environment, give yourself permission to take whatever steps you need to ensure that you feel safe.
- When you’re on campus, travel in well lit areas when moving between buildings or going to the washroom.
- If possible, carry a cell phone with you or take note where the closest available phones on campus are (a payphone, friend with a cellphone, or even an office that has a phone in it).
- If you plan to study or stay on campus after hours, familiarize yourself with the hours of operations. (You can find out Ryerson campus building hours by clicking here).
- Connect with a community on campus. Whether that be a student group, people in your field of study, or an advocacy center. Finding people who you feel good and supported around and have shared values or experiences with can help increase feelings of safety on campus.
Think ahead and make a personal safety plan for being on campus.
Questions to consider:
- Where are spaces on campus that I feel safer? Where are spaces on campus that I feel less safe? What can I do when I see someone who harmed me on campus? (some suggestions: walk away, duck into a store, be in spaces with a lot of people, call a friend).
- Who can I call if I am feeling in distress or in danger on campus?
- What supports are available to me on campus? (both informal like friend or classmates and formal like Consent Comes First or campus security)
Additional Guides / Resources
- PDF filePDF fileSafety planning guide, external link, external link for University Campuses created by Love is Respect. A resource that can help you to map out what safety on campus looks like for you to help you to feel safer on campus.
- Ryerson Security can be involved to create a situation-specific safety plan with survivors around the campus.
- Walk Safe Program – you can call Security anytime (24/7) to be escorted to various locations on the campus including to the subway or parking lot
- Additional campus safety tips, external link, external link to consider offered by RAINN.
What is stalking?
Stalking is repeated, unwanted contact or behaviour that makes you feel harassed or fearful. It can be perpetrated by someone you know, or it can be a stranger. It can be carried out in-person or online (i.e., cyberstalking). It is a serious crime that is often overlooked.
If you are being stalked, know that it is never your fault.
What can stalking look like?
- Someone persistently sending you unwanted messages through the internet, such as spamming your social media accounts, email inbox or school account.
- Using GPS or location-tracking devices to find out your location without your consent.
- Attempts at non-consensual communication, such as leaving gifts or sending birthday cards, etc. when you have asked them not to.
- Acts of voyeurism, such as showing up where you are, or looking at you from a distance.
- Threats to you, or to those you love, such as your friends or family.
If you are being stalked
Here are some ways you can try to keep yourself safe when you are being stalked:
- Document any behaviour or any messages that you receive.
- If possible, make a friend, neighbour, roommate or a coworker aware of the situation, and let them know they can best support you.
- Have an emergency/escape plan in case you find out that you are being followed by the person who is stalking you.
- Consider internet safety measures (see online safety page).
- Create a self-care plan.
If you are being stalked and the behaviour is escalating, it may be helpful to seek legal options to protect yourself. You can read about these options PDF filePDF filehere , external link, external linkor contact Legal Services at Ryerson, external link, external link.
If involving the legal system is not an option, it will still be important to create a safety plan as well as seek out community care. Staff at Consent Comes First can assist you with this.
Here are some in-depth guides that can be helpful in keeping yourself safe: