As soon as a woman calls the shelter asking for a space, safety planning begins. Being on the other end of the phone, it’s always heartbreaking to hear the stories. But the best way to help a woman who is fleeing a violent home is to equip her with the tools she needs to get herself and her kids to safety.
Timing is a very important consideration when preparing to leave. If there is time to plan (some women call months before leaving an abuser), it’s a good idea to keep the essentials hidden away including important paperwork she needs for things like custody and immigration. If a woman plans to leave right away, she’ll have to plan how to get safely to Interval House. Sometimes that’s by taxi or asking for a police escort, but it’s also about planning to grab the things she will need. Certain objects take on greater meaning when lives are in flux.
When children arrive at the shelter, their lives have been turned upside down overnight. Comfort objects suddenly mean everything to them. Right away they will receive a little package that includes a quilt that has come from a caring Interval House donor. And there is always at least one other special item, something Mom brought from home, an object that takes on Super Powers. It may not change the devastating circumstances, but it does remind children that feelings of calm, comfort and safety are possible.
And that is the key to moving forward.