South End Stew: Safety Planning

by Kayla Blau

When they ask “why didn’t she just leave?”
I want to tell them of failed escape routes
On average, seven attempts to leave
Damp paper planes and keyless locks
Choose-your-own adventure stories that offer no choice.
No exit.

For my day and night jobs,
I do safety planning.
I sit with mothers amongst their bruises and mismatched lids
And we maze our way through
Protection orders, backdoors, changing locks,
Leaving –
Even if it means leaving behind their mother’s china,
Or all the baby photos,
Or their child’s favorite toy.
They have learned that sometimes,
You have to leave some things behind.
Sometimes, that’s the only way forward.