Wednesday, July 15, 2015
What to expect from a shelter
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!