Guest Author - Trish Deneen
Leaving an abusive situation is a frightening step, especially when it seems that you have no where to turn. While local police should be your first step, you may feel intimidated by calling them or simply want to get away as soon as possible without alerting your abuser of your plans to leave. Or you may want to talk to a third party who can make you feel more at ease about calling in law enforcement.
You may think you're alone and that your situation is unique, but your local domestic violence and rape shelters have experience in many different scenarios. They will know how to help you get out of your situation. Besides the phone book or a random Google search, there are other options in finding somewhere nearby to get help.
Your state and local government websites are likely to have shelter listings. Simply do a search for your state or other local government website, and when there enter 'domestic violence shelters' in the search box on the site and see what comes up. At the state level, you'll often find listings separated by county.
A better way to find shelters is to contact national organizations that specialize in what you need. Two well-known and trusted organizations that have listings of shelters and other resources in each state are the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN) and the National Domestic Violence Hotline. Each of these websites have an alphabetical listing by state of local shelters. You can also call their hotlines listed below:
National Domestic Violence Hotline
Both hotlines are completely confidential and available year round, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. They have trained staff available to get you the help you need immediately in your area. They also can give you advice for when you're ready to report the abuse to the police as well as what you can expect from the legal process.
Victims may tell themselves they don't have it as bad as someone else. Possibly, someone you thought you could count on isn't around when you need them. There can be any number of reasons you may need help and hesitate to get it. You may tell yourself that the fear of something new outweighs the pain of staying. None of these reasons matter. If you're unable to help yourself or your children get away from an abusive person, then there's no shame in asking for help. Local shelters are there to help give you a new start. Please don't hesitate to use their services when you need them.