Things To Know Before You Go
THINGS YOU SHOULD KNOW BEFORE FLEEING ABUSE
In my last post I talked about what precipitated my actions to finally pack my bags and go.
Even though it was on my radar to leave sometime after the winter, I was hoping that I did not have to take my daughter through the homeless system.
After months of deliberating, I realized I had to do it the hard way, but I did not realize how hard it would really be.
Regardless of the difficulties, I would not trade my freedom for Narcissistic Isolation, Financial Abuse, Mental Domination and Attacks against my child.
These are the steps I took to leave and maybe how you can too.
It is NOT EASY if you do not have a car or money and my below experience is based on having neither of the two.1) Do not tell your abuser where you are going. My abuser was my mother, however when my abuser was my boyfriend, I took out a restraining order against him and packed my belongings while he had the temporary restraining order on him. I sold my belongings on Craigslist too and moved into a Women’s Shelter before it was lifted, that way if I was unsuccessful in the permanent restraining order, I was still gone.
Life was not so clean cut this time leaving my mother’s home with my two year old daughter I had no shelter and there were no beds in any domestic violence shelter in all the State I fled to.
I had to do it the hard way.
2) If you don’t have money or access to money-Ask for help, I started by borrowing a small amount of money from a friend. When the money was in my Paypal, I began washing and packing that very same day and was gone in less than a week. I asked everyone I knew and friends of friends were able to extend hands from out of the blue to deliver us.
Ask everyone, in my case I had no choice but to ask my mother for a ride to the bus station and I chose to leave on a day that she was going in that direction to her job, so that there were no excuses and that I would not miss the bus.
This isn’t to say that she did not try her endeavor best to make me late, however my bus ride was in the wee hours of the morning and any pussyfooting she did to make me late, would also make her late for work.
When she asked where I was going, I simply said: “Away.”
4) DON’T GET SUCKED IN, Abuse is about power and control, when your abuser catches wind that you are leaving, they will try to ensnare you into a battle royale to break your spirit and will.
DO NOT GET SUCKED IN, When she tried to engage me into a last battle with bitter words and pyrotechnic shrillness in her voice, I simply did what I always did..locked myself in the bathroom with my daughter and stayed quiet until she cursed herself silly and left. ( Am surprised that worked because in the past when I tried that she called police and claimed I had barricaded myself into my room and she was in fear of her life.) This is the incident I referred to in the previous post that backfired on her.
5) PACK AND TAKE EVERYTHING-I packed everything, even my junk.
What I could not take, I had left on the porch of a well meaning neighbor who was sure to donate them if I did not send money to get them because I knew I could not count on my mother for even that small grace.
6) Find a Carrier that has a Domestic Violence Policy, If you are fleeing via greyhound or another carrier, there are protocols of luggage and excessive baggage for domestic violence that your carrier may be able to follow to assist you so that you do not have to pay for all your stuff. Speak to someone on duty privately and let them know
(This is if you don’t have a car, I didn’t and still don’t)
(Applause to Greyhound who helped me to take 9 pieces of luggage, including My daughter’s car seat and stroller at no extra cost the worker Ms. Sonnet in Raleigh even paid some of the expenses out of her own pocket)
7)NETWORK This should be number 0.1 NETWORK. Build out your Network of friends and organizations that will help you when you land where you need to be. Coordinate with your network to ensure that your arrival catches them at a good time. If you are fleeing with kids, find out about daycare where you need to be. Join Groups on Facebook, but be careful who you take “Help” from Some people are predators and find your neediness as an attractive resource. Listen to their words and ask questions about what they expect from you. Be careful of how someone is willing to “help” you because in many instances help can be harm if you are not opening your eyes to their slickness.
8) DOMESTIC VIOLENCE SHELTERS ARE FULL. I am going to blatantly generalize just to clarify to you that it is real and it is hard if you decide to leave your abuser. I will assume that shelters are full over the United States, but only you can know for sure by calling 311 in your city and getting the number for their domestic violence shelter lines.
If you are in a city that has no beds in Domestic Violence Shelters you will need to call everyday and they DO NOT RECORD YOUR NAME OR WHAT HAS HAPPENED TO YOU.
This means YOU MUST CALL AND RETELL YOUR ORDEAL EVERY SINGLE DAY AND RELIVE YOUR NIGHTMARE BEFORE THEY TELL YOU THAT THERE ARE NO BEDS AVAILABLE. IT IS UNDIGNIFIED, INHUMANE AND CRUEL but this is how some shelters can filter out what help they can give you or deny you.
9) KNOW YOUR CITY PROTOCOLS ON DOMESTIC VIOLENCE: DOMESTIC VIOLENCE INTAKE SCREENING WILL DENY YOU HELP: If you tell them you are fleeing abuse and your boyfriend threatened you with a gun, they may not admit you because you will put others lives at risk. Meanwhile, another Shelter may tell you that because you are not in fear of being chased by your abuser, that they do not think you are in danger and WILL DENY YOU SHELTER.
In the some cities, If you have escaped abuse more than 30 days ago, you are considered HOMELESS and NOT fleeing DOMESTIC VIOLENCE and therefore NOT ELIGIBLE FOR SHELTER!!!
HOWEVER, IF you are new to that City for less than 30 days, you are not eligible for assistance through their homeless services.
10)Homelessness with children is DANGEROUS.
Do not expect anyone to understand if the catch you sleeping on a train, in your car or in an alley.
Those incidents are considered child welfare hazards and some cities have protocols that if you show up to welfare looking for help and tell them that you are homeless, they are required to call child services to take your children away.
11) There is no such thing as a HOMELESS SHELTER, there is just HOMELESSNESS undignified, inhumane homelessness.
This is the process most cities put the Homeless through, if you-read and let me know if you disagree with me.
Before you are considered “In the System” You must experience more than 30 nights in Emergency Homeless Shelters.
You must find yourself in an intake facility after 5pm and sit with a counselor who will find a place for you to sleep that night.
When you get to that location, which is usually a warehouse converted into a “Shelter” you must take any clothing you have with you and put it in a dryer to kill bed bugs.
Then You Must shower and take the clothing you wore and put that in the dryer too.
From there you go into a large warehouse room filled with adult beds and cribs for children.
My daughter’s first crib experience was in one of these facilities because though she had been sleeping with me since she outgrew her bassinet at 9 months old, keeping her on my single bed in this facility would trigger a Child Services Case that could have her taken away.
That night I came to realize why, as a mother of a Newborn baby rolled over onto her infant child and I could not wake her from her sleep.
I HAVE ALSO NOTICED THAT MOST WOMEN IN THESE SHELTERS HAVE HAD THEIR CHILDREN TAKEN AWAY AT LEAST ONCE.
You must leave your “Shelter by 9 am and go only God Knows Where until 5pm the next evening when you get to start the process all over again.
If you don’t have a job already to go to, you will not be able to find one as you go through the experience because there are no babysitting facilities that can watch your child while you interview with a potential employer and you never know where you are going to sleep from one night to the next, so there is no way of coordinating your schedule.
12) YOUR CREDIT WILL SUFFER If you have not cleared your debtors before leaving or if you are forced to leave abruptly, expect your credit to suffer.
Creditors do not speak your language, they do not care about your abuse, your homelessness, your lack of childcare, your inability to find a job or your limited access to resources…they will keep stripping away at your credit month after month until it has completely disappeared. In my case My credit has fallen 350 Points within less than 6 months.
13)YOU WONT BE ABLE TO FIND A PLACE WITHOUT CREDIT No one will rent you anything without Great Credit and NO LANDLORD wants to hear about Domestic Violence. Their automatic assumption is that your abuser will either slay everyone else in the building or you will bring him to live there too and treat them to arguing, police cars and unwanted attention.
Also, if you experienced financial abuse as I did, where my ex-boyfriend controlled the money from our construction business 4 years ago and would not give me a dime to pay rent until I was standing in front of the judge, then those incidents count as Evictions, even though the landlord never got possession of the apartment and in the end I got my rental deposit back, it was a tactic on my boyfriends part to completely ruin me so that I could not leave and no other landlord would rent to me.
This happened 6 times consecutively before I decided to start my own business, but it is only now 4 years later and trying to find a place to live that I realize that those incidents count as evictions and do show up.
13) Utilize Resources such as Craigslist and Roomster to find a place to hole up until you can do better. I found a little room, in a very undesirable place, a free microwave and donated pots, and toiletries on Craigslist. Browse the free section everyday and see what you can find to add to your nest until better comes along.
14) Be kind and thankful towards those who help you and those who may be in NEED of YOUR HELP. On your way you will find a lot of women who are struggling worst than you-If she needs even a smile, be well enough to give it to her, you may just be the one who stops her from jumping in front of a bus.
Also, do your best best not to encroach too much on the time of your saviors and angels, try to be as self sufficient as possible. Be kind to your kids-though you are going through it, it is still their Childhood and having them happy is what will make you happy.
15) Try to remain as positive as you can, I know its hard but if you dwell on how hard it is, it will never get better-instead focus on how far you have come and what you can do to be better every day.
Remember: This did not happen to you, you chose to leave abuse rather than wallow in it and for that you are leagues ahead than where you were before.
So there you have it, some things I think you should know and consider before leaving an abusive environment or situationship.
Thanks for Reading
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Renae & JoJo