Local Domestic Abuse/Sexual Assault Shelters/Organizations
A common myth about domestic abuse and sexual assault shelters is that you have to stay there in order to utilize their services. This is not the case at all. You can work with advocates even if you reside elsewhere.
There are many benefits to meeting with an advocate. One of the most important is that they will meet you where you are at in your decision making process – whether you want to stay and work on your relationship, have decided you want to leave, or have left and are wondering what to do now.
Advocates have an extensive list of local resources you can utilize and will advocate for you to obtain them. They can assist you with filling out restraining orders, attend court hearings with you for support and provide the mental and emotional support needed for wherever you are in your journey. They are also well-versed in all of the resources I listed below. They can help you fill out the paperwork and advocate on your behalf to receive those resources. Think of them as your go-to person for healing, support and independence.
Many organizations also have a 24/hour hotline or text line that you can reach out to.
To find organizations near you, look up “domestic abuse organizations near me.”
If you are considering leaving your relationship with your partner, make sure you have developed a safety plan. A safety plan is your plan during an emergency situation. It should contain a code word that you share with your children so they know what they need to do should an emergency occur. This might be having them go to the neighbors house and call 911 or another option you see fit.
You may want to have a small bag packed with clothes, birth certificates, social security cards and other important items you want to take with you should you decide to leave. Sometimes these items are destroyed by the partner. Your local domestic abuse organization can help you obtain new copies.
Perhaps leaving isn’t an option for you so your plan might contain where in the home you will go where you can be safe. Advocates at your local organizations can meet with you to develop these plans and provide an emergency cell phone so you are prepared.
Safe At Home Program
Many states have a program called Safe at Home. I took the program description directly from my state’s (Wisconsin) program.
“Safe at Home is a statewide address confidentiality program that provides victims of actual or threatened domestic abuse, child abuse, sexual abuse, stalking, and trafficking, or those who simply fear for their physical safety with a legal substitute address to be used for both public and private purposes. Enrollment in Safe at Home allows participants to use and receive mail at an assigned address in lieu of their actual address. Safe at Home then forwards mail from the assigned address to participants’ actual addresses free of charge.
The intent of Safe at Home is for those who fear for their safety to be able to maintain a private, confidential home, work, or school address and gain some peace of mind. Safe at Home is one of many tools that an individual can choose as part of their overall safety plan.”
To find out if this program is offered in your state, just search for the name of the program and your state: “safe at home [your state].”
Many local domestic and sexual abuse shelters are certified to assist you with your application.
Crime Victim Compensation
Pulled directly from the National Center for Victims of Crime:
“Crime victim compensation is a government program to reimburse victims of violent crimes- such as assault, homicide, rape, and, in some states, burglary – as well as their families for many of their out-of-pocket expenses. Every state has a crime victim compensation program.
Crime victim compensation programs will generally pay for:
- medical and dental expenses,
- counseling costs,
- funeral or burial expenses, and
- lost wages or support.”
In order to receive benefits, the crime must have been reported to the police within a specific time period as indicated by each state. Deciding whether or not to report is YOUR choice. An advocate can talk to you about the pros and cons of reporting for both domestic abuse and sexual abuse.
Here is a link to find out more about your state’s program:
Tenant Rights Related to Domestic and Sexual Abuse
There are laws that allow a victim of domestic or sexual abuse to terminate their lease if they co-signed with their abusive partner. In some cases the victim could still be responsible for the last month they resided in the home or for damages. These costs, however, could be reimbursed through the Crime Victim Compensation program.
Here is a link to find out more about what the law says. I encourage you to research the laws directly for your state.
Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)
In Wisconsin, this program is called W-2. If you have children, are pregnant and qualify for TANF, you can receive cash assistance while you apply for jobs to help cover costs until you find employment.
Taken directly from the W-2 website:
“W-2 is a time-limited program that provides temporary cash assistance and case management services to low-income parents and pregnant women. W-2 is a work program for adults willing to engage in work activities; it is not an entitlement.
Low-income parents and pregnant women may participate in W-2. Both you and your child’s other parent may be eligible for W-2, even if your child only lives with you.
W-2 can help you gain the skills you need to get a job and provide for your family. If you have a disability, a worker at a W-2 agency can help you apply for disability-related benefits, such as Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). Lastly, if you are a pregnant woman, W-2 can provide cash assistance and case management services. A worker at the W-2 Agency determines if you are eligible for W-2.
- Case management services;
- Vocational education and training;
- Assistance with searching for housing, child care, and employment;
- Assistance applying for SSI/SSDI; and
- Work experience, through supervised worksites.”
For information on TANF for your state, look up “TANF [your state].”
-Diaper and wipe programs
-Clothing and basic necessity options
In addition to the above-mentioned resources, many domestic violence and/or sexual assault shelters/organizations offer food pantries in addition to your local food pantry, diaper and wipe programs and options to obtain clothing and basic necessities for yourself and your children.
When you obtain housing, many areas have a center of donated goods that you can go to, to pick out household items you need such as beds, couches, bedding, kitchen items and towels. This makes it possible to start over when oftentimes victims leave with only the clothes on their back.
The National Suicide Hotline: 1-800-273-8255 (TALK). They also have a 24/hour chat available.
The National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-7233 (SAFE). They also have 24/hour chat available.
The National Sexual Assault Hotline: 1-800-656-4673 (HOPE). They also have a 24/hour chat available.
Crisis Text Line: Text “Home” to 741741 from anywhere in the United States, anytime, about any time of crisis. A live, trained Crisis Counselor receives and responds, all from their secure online platform. The Crisis Counselor will help you move from a hot moment to a cool moment.