Wednesday, April 6, 2011


One week and we're pretty much back to normal at the shelter.Some single women and two families with several children each have arrived, one group precipitously. The new kids and teens are still in shock. They relate well, take part in group appropriately, get along with each other and the adults at the shelter.

This good functioning may continue with some, but most residents, adult and child, go through a roller coaster of emotional, legal, material, and physical changes during their stay.

Those who had to flee with no time to prepare for the move or to prepare the kids for the move, may have a fairly easy transition to shelter life at first. They are busy trying to find clothing, diapers, toiletries, etc. for the family. They expend tremendous energy trying to gather important documents (legal, birth certificates, bank accounts, etc.) and services (welfare, immigration, employment, educational, etc.). For a couple weeks, they don't have much time to think.

Resident women who worked with shelter staff before leaving home, already have important papers with them or with friends. They have brought with them clothes, toys, toiletries. They know where their kids will go to school and have notified day care and/or their bosses about the need to take time off or quit the job. Family and friends they can trust have been informed about the move, though not their location.

Either way, leaving home is traumatic, no matter what the circumstances.

The next step is to stay away from the batterer. This is even harder, especially if a woman cannot support her children on her own. Maybe she still believes he'll become the man she fell in love with. Maybe she's been brainwashed into thinking his problems are all her fault. Maybe her teen wants to graduate this year at his home high school.

Leaving is never easy, even when it's a matter of life and death.
Staying away is climbing Mt. Everest.
Don't judge these women, unless you've been in the trap they've escaped.
You really don't know what you think you know.

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