there is a way out.
If you are in immediate danger, call 911.
The first step towards safety and change involves having a plan. And you can do it. While The Gatehouse is not an emergency shelter or housing program, if you are in need of immediate assistance, find a list of shelters, transitional housing and supportive living communities in DFW below.
Develop a Safety Plan
This is a broad scope safety plan. For assistance creating an individualized plan, contact an agency listed or call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233).
Ask yourself: Are you honestly willing to walk away from this life, leaving with nothing but your children and yourself? If the answer is “Yes,” and you have some time, create your Safety Plan:
- Identify a neighbor or friend you can tell about the violence.
Ask them to call 911 if they see or hear anything of concern.
- Have a plan for where you can go if you need to leave in an emergency. Click here for safe housing resources.
- Keep 1 bag packed in an undisclosed location (with a friend or hidden away in your home where you can quickly grab it and go). Include 3 days of clothing for you and your children. Only 1 bag for everything, including kids’ items. Keep it simple:
- One pair of shoes for each of you
- Day clothing
- Two small, special toys per child
- Prescriptions in original bottles from pharmacy
- Small mementos, such as photos
- Paperwork (see next)
- Gather all paperwork for you & children:
- birth certificates
- social security cards
- driver’s license / passport
- school records
- insurance & medical records
- bank & savings statements
- credit cards & bills
- automobile titles
- any legal documentation
- Give valuable jewelry to a well-trusted friend for safekeeping until you leave the shelter.
- If you have time before leaving, save as much cash as you can.
- Begin to establish independence by seeking job training, setting up a bank account and scheduling childcare.
- Notice your surroundings coming from and going to work or home. Vary your daily routine. Keep a cell phone with you, and turn off key sounds, so you can dial 911 silently.
- Some abusers will track you through your phone, electronic devices and your car. Plan ahead to leave your phone behind. Record all your contacts’ info and delete that info from the phone you leave behind.
- Contact shelters, click here, and ask if they have openings. Emphasize you and your children are in an actively abusive situation and are in immediate and continuing danger. If they say they have no openings, ask if there is a wait list. If a shelter has an opening, accept it immediately – do not wait.
- You can drive to the shelter; the police or a friend can also drive you. Some locations do not have parking spaces, so you may want to drive to a friend’s, leave your vehicle there and have your friend drive you. Pick up your children from school or daycare if they are not at home with you.
Know that you are stronger than you realize – you can do this. You are not alone. It will not be easy, but it will be worth it.
For a list of local shelters, transitional housing and supportive living communities, click here.
SHELTERS (average stay: 30 days)
This is a location for immediate, urgent safety. A family can feel safe and start healing. When leaving a shelter, a woman should always have a plan for her next steps and know where she will live.
The best option is a longer-term program such as transitional housing or even a supportive-living community. At the very least, the woman should make plans to live with a friend after staying at a shelter so she does not have to return to her abuser.
TRANSITIONAL HOUSING (various lengths of stay, up to 2 years)
After a shelter, the next step is transitional housing. Victims can receive more in-depth services and more time to heal, learn life skills and build a foundation for permanent change.
Services could include counseling, classes, job advising, financial planning, etc. Around three months prior to leaving the transitional housing facility, a woman should prepare for her next step, which can be locating her own housing, seeking subsidized housing or applying to a supportive living community.
SUPPORTIVE LIVING COMMUNITIES (various lengths of stay)
After transitional housing, a supportive living community can provide more time to become permanently independent. Due to limited space, supportive living communities typically have a more extensive application and selective admission process.
Longer-term residence, extensive counseling, financial planning, job skills training, additional education, etc. for healing and self-supportiveness are provided. The goal is to end cycles of abuse and poverty, heal and experience permanent, positive change.