Wednesday, July 15, 2015
The whole ordeal of leaving an abuser is terrifying, traumatic and down right emotional! You decide to make the jump to leave your abuser and may be unsure where are you going to go?
A hazy view of shelters, as being seedy. A place where only low income women go. Maybe you are intimatdated. Perhaps you think only people with kids are allowed there or you feel just uncertain if it's okay for you. You may have no idea where to find one in your area. All of these thoughts and feelings are normal and understandable!
Abuse effects all ages, races, economic situations, sexes, and religious beliefs. Those men and women that go through the doors of shelters are just as nervous and unsure as you are. Many come with baggage that is not seen from the outside. They come with scars both inside and out. Many have trust issues, lack of confidence, little to no finances, support , no idea what tomorrow is going to bring and some are just bone weary from whatever situation they escaped from. One woman during my stay had been a Guest over 20 times! She hoped she could be strong enough not to go back again.
You will need to call a shelter near you. Most shelters addresses are not listed in the phone book, as not to bring unwanted attention and for safety of it's Guests.
You head to your local government page for your state or city for contact information. Google search, Aspire App that was recently created specifically for victims of abuse, and https://www.domesticshelters.org to name a few.
What happens next is when you are safe, call, a person will take an assessment of your situation, ask if you need or can leave ASAP. If you need a lift most shelters do provide a pick up service if it is safe. If the police have been called advocates can take you under the watchful eye of an Officer. Many shelters host 15 to 40 beds and on average you can stay 30 to 40 days and if you have wee ones of course they can stay as well. An advocate will also let you know whether they have room, which can be equally scary, but in most cases they should be able to coordinate a escape day for you or let you know when they will have a vacancy.
Please don't let that stop you from leaving!
What can you expect once you have become a Guest? This list is just a top of my head list and some shelters may have more programs or less, feel free to ask!
*A caring person to listen or just give you a hug if need be
*Shelter-there maybe a slim chance you have to share a room
*You will be asked birthday, address, medical info, nearest relative, description of your abuser, if you have a Order of Protection, attorney information, a short bit of the abuse. You will also be required to fill out a Safety Plan! I have a copy on this blog of the form given to me during our stay as an example. You will be asked about visitation arrangements if you have children together.
*Help locating housing
*Training for a new career
*Medical help in cases of injury or rape-They can arrange to get you to a hospital
*Some have animal shelters and many do allow for service animals. Let your advocate know!
*Emergency phone- You will have access to dial 911 in case of emergency, it's not a phone for social media or for cruising on the web. It is for emergencies.
You will be responsible for you children
There will be shared Kitchen (Let them know if you need special dietary needs)and common areas
They will have toiletries, sheets/blankets, towels and clothing- During our first visit as a Guest we only had the clothes on our back! They provided us with new underwear, socks, toothbrushes, soaps and shampoos. I just cried at how wonderful the community was to donate total strangers!
You will have a place to do laundry
Most shelters do ask for Guests to contribute by sharing responsibilities of chores
You will be asked not to share too much personal information with other guests for your safety and that of others. Seems extreme but I was so into my own bubble of sadness I really wasn't up to making new friends.
No visitors! Advocates are very concerned over your well being and do not wish to put you or anyone else in harms way.
There maybe a curfew and if you are not back at that curfew they will call Police.
If you need to get anything important from home, as an example, prescriptions, birth certificates, medical cards and so on. . . An Officer can escort your to your home to pick up these items. It's not a time to bring everything with you. Just small important things.
This is just a brief bit of information. Programs and assistance may vary for how in depth or detailed the shelter can help you. It's not a handout. It's not something to take advantage. It's for you to get back on your feet, to help you realize you are AMAZING and DESERVE not to be hurt anymore!
When you walk through those doors you find a place that is homey, safe and bright. Advocates at these facilities are caring, genuine and have seen every sort of scenario! They have been through intense training in order to equip them with knowledge to help you through your situation.
This is just a small peek into a shelter. I encourage you to check into these services. It is humbling to ask for help, but I have to tell you, I found encouragement, others like me and hope for a new beginning.
I'm proud of you Dear Blog reader! No matter where you are on your journey please know you are not alone. And if you know someone that is in an abusive situation share this blog with them. My own story is found in the Labels and also share Safety/Safety plan, and Check list for leaving your abuser, to encourage and inspire hope of a normal life. There is normalcy after abuse. It takes time to get there and lots of tears but it's worth it.
BIG HUGS and stay safe!
Monday, July 13, 2015
I cowered in the corner. Trying my best not to cry and feeling totally helpless and desparate not to get hurt again like I had in the past. His shouting and arguing had led me to this familiar corner of the room. I felt like a animal ready for the slaughter. My stomach hurt. I couldn't catch my breath but couldn't let on that I was feeling as frightened as I already outwardly was.
He stood above me with a coy dark smile. His face was cloudy but filled with rage. His fist clenched so hard I swore his knuckles would pop out of his skin.
My mind jumbled for some sort good reason to appease him as to why I failed to make some calls about bills. I forgot is not good enough. I ran out of time is not good either. I had no good, valid reason. I hurridly went about my day like normal, rushing about like a squirrel in traffic, trying to make sure I store my nuts before the winter.
Oh that's how everyday felt. Like I was rushing about with a list of things that numbered from a unrealistic checklist of people, place and things to do. I usually did everything by the skin of my teeth. But not that day.
I managed to squeak out that I was sorry and it wouldn't happen again. His face changed into a gentle smile and he offered a hand up. I felt a rush of relief! YEA!
After helping me up, he takes me and shoves me so faster then I had time to register what happened and I'm falling backwards into the wall behind me. I let out a sigh as I went down. My teeth had clenched together from the impact. My head hurt and arms felt bruised.
He stomped away in a huff, muttering under his breath. I stayed there like a rag doll for what seemed like forever, in actuality it was a few minutes. I rose slowly, ever so carefully. My head felt like it was filled with cotton. From behind me I heard quick steps rushing towards me. I felt a adreniline and turned around with such force my back cracked. I turned fast enough to see him coming at me with the cold stare of hate etched on it. His intention was to do further battle.
He started screaming that I was lazy and good for nothing, along with some obsenities I was used to. I felt wobbly, still shook up from the incident just a bit before. I raised my arms to protect myself while he sneered with a fist in mid air, somehow I grew a set of man parts and stopped his hand and punched him in the stomach! He looked stunned!
"You hit me, Mel! I didn't hit you! I was just coming to see if you were okay after you fell!"
I yelled back that I was protecting myself!
He spoke softly and said, "Mel, you really need to get help before you hurt one of the me or one of the kids! I'll let this go but we need to talk to the doctor about meds for you. Or perhaps a Psych eval."
"I think you need to rethink who is abusive in this family. I have was protecting myself from you Mel. I saw you look wild and that's why my hands were up because I wasn't sure what you were going to do to me."
I was stunned, pumped up with SheMomma emotions! I felt both stupid and angry at him and myself. At the same time I knew what he was doing. He had a habit of doing or saying things to make me feel like I was nuts. Truth is I thought I was losing it.
There was a time, I believed if I fought back I was to blame for the abuse as much as he was. He would bark he would call the police on me and take the kids. I would never see them again.
But I very rarely hit back. I usually just took whatever crap he hit me with. It wasn't until much later I realized I was not crazy. I was not abusive and he was twisted. I was defending myself from a potentially heated situation. I never struck my children out of anger or abused them as my ex had. He rationalized all of his reactions to situations with some sort funky spin to make me the bad guy or he always has someone else be the scapegoat. Never fully taking responsiblity for his actions.
So Dear one, if you are trapped in a situation that sounds similar, please know you are not alone. Contact a trusted friend or relative, shelter or even the Police to get help. Don't hide in the darkness any longer. It is scary to leave an abusive situation. I'm not going to sugar coat it. But you will be in a much better place once you have left.
Please view my other posts on "Safety". Check into the "Aspire" app created by Dr. Phil's wife, which looks like a regular news feed but secretly has info to get help locally.
Prayers and hugs for you!