Sometimes, a domestic abuse victim has limited options when she and her children decide to flee an abuser and their home. But they are options nonetheless. You’ve asserted yourself, made a painful decision and have decided it’s time to protect yourself and your children. It’s time to leave your home for a safer environment.
But where do you go? If you have the fortune of having nearby family, and they are willing to let you stay with them, do so. However, many domestic abuse victims don’t have that option, so temporarily living in a shelter surrounded by strangers becomes a common choice. They may be strangers, but they share the same experiences of being victims of stalking, domestic violence or sexual assault.
Physical violence from an intimate partner
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 37 percent of U.S. women and 31 percent of U.S. men have experienced physical abuse, stalking and sexual violence from an intimate partner in their lifetime. Regarding physical violence including being hit with something hard, kicked, beaten or burned, almost one-third of women and more than a quarter of men have been through it with an intimate partner.
Sources to help, steps to take
In Alaska, a number of sources exist when seeking domestic shelters and victim advocates. Here are some steps a domestic abuse victim should take when seeking a safe place:
- Family may be the first source in finding a safe, temporary place to live. They know you, and likely know what you’re going through, and can lend you a sympathetic shoulder.
- Turn to friends and acquaintances for a helping hand. You may have to think of a person your abuser does not know in order to find a safe place. This could be a distant relative, someone from the gym, a co-worker or someone from you church.
- A domestic shelter not only gets victims out of immediate danger, but also will rebuild their esteem, and provide them with the confidence to move on. One of the choices they must make is to resist their desire to return to the person who abused them.
- Although this is not the ideal situation, your car may be the only option if you need an immediate place to stay for a few days.
- Explore getting a “kick-out” or residence exclusion order, which would require the abuser to leave the home.
- Do not let your abuser know where you are staying.
Domestic abuse survivors must stay strong. Leaving an abuser is the first step. No one should be subjected to constant physical and emotional abuse. Remember that transitional housing is only temporary. In time, you will heal and welcome the new violence-free life that awaits you.