Once someone has obtained physiological needs, the next step up in Maslow’s hierarchy is to achieve safety. Safety refers to physical, psychological and spiritual stability. The ladies that enter the program that I work for usually do not have safety upon entering, but do after completion of the program. When checking to see if someone has obtained this need, ask the following questions:
– Where do you stay? How long have you stayed there? Consistency is the key for stabilization. If someone has moved around multiple times (i.e. couch surfing) in less than a year, they probably have not felt safe to settle down.
– When do you feel safe? When was the last time? Most individuals that report they haven’t felt safe in a while may still be running on fight or flight mode. Acknowledging that there was/is safety available can lessen anxiety.
– Who do you feel safe with? Are you currently in an abusive relationship? Check and see what the person’s support system looks like. Not everyone is considered safe… especially if there has been abuse in the past. The person needs to find someone who will be physically, emotionally and spiritually supportive of them. The more positive and supportive individuals, the more the person will feel safe.
– What does safety look like to you? Have the person describe what safety looks, feels, smells, hears and tastes like to them. Using all the senses to describe safety can assist the person in recognizing when they feel safe.
Safety can take all different forms – from staying clear from an abusive relationship to freedom of speech without penalty. Once safety is obtained, the person can then focus on the next need: love and belonging.