I had the courage to leave, and then the safe shelters are full... How I do stay safe (and away)
Dear understanding readers, *trigger warning* I am in the middle of being in the process from being a Domestic Violence (DV) 'victim'to becoming a 'survivor'. I hope. First of, for those ready to be in a position to leave, please do so and let my words not be discouraging. There might be more funding made available for more spaces or another space happens to be available near you. E.g. Someone might just have found their own home. This is why I am trying to hang in there.
Today, thus my hope and courage have been shaken by my recent and ongoing experiences. But again I urge you not to take this piece on as discouraging; to not leave an unsafe or abusive situation. If anything, I would not and cannot go back.
In my moments of speechlessness and feeling quite scared, I am seeking a safer way to share my experience of having left a very abusive DV situation. Despite of having a restraining order and a criminal protective order, the police has not reinforced this, allowing the batterer and his friends to violate this over a dozens times. It also was so life threatening, that when others calling it me leaving 'a choice' it is a joke the few concerned but helpless loved ones and me.
The only support the Victim Witness program at this time offers is financial reimbursement, after the victim with an open application or a case finds housing, pays for it and then submits the relocation paperwork. The fact that there is no affordable housing available, or that there are other obstacles in the way, does not matter and has prevented me to be able to be re-homed /relocated safely. I have tried to access Domestic Violence services and Safe Women shelters. To my surprise, and I do want to share this: I have been referred to either another county, city or plainly been turned away due to no availability. Counties do not work with each other to ensure that victims can safely get to there or organizations often, some do, do not have communication among each other regarding availability. I have been revictimized in the process due to arriving in a city after been sent by one organization and the next one not having any availability.
The only referral left is often a resource to a local homeless shelter, where I indeed -due to my vulnerabilities/disabilities, have been re-victimized. It is quite shocking to me, feeling more desperately, and not knowing whether I did the right thing.
Maybe being threatened with another gang rape or being recorded on cell phone forced against my will by my batterer and his friends is not that bad of a pay off. Compared of the unknown. There is a big world out there and in many cities sleeping outside is against the law. Or the batterer has stalked me, leading to a lot of isolation, in some areas my cell phone does not work. After been hurt by other perps, it is hard to just to accept help from people outside. It continues to be one wirwar of confusion of whom has good intentions and whom has not, and it has not been limited to one gender, to make it a little more confusing for me.
The police does not always understands me or does not treat me in a way that has helped me, and it just contradicts to what a lot of privileged people keep saying. It feels very dis-empowering at the moment. As a person who has a background in this field, I feel really stupid finding myself in this position, and I had not anticipated the lack of availability. And when no availability such a quick loss of support from these organizations. Planning and human contact makes quite a difference in safety. I am feeling guilty asking for help by now or even having to look for the next organization even though they say that.
Shuffling a list of hotlines and a map in my hands was making me cry yesterday. I have lost many loved ones who do not know how to help and feel too helpless and scared. I on the other hand feel thankful that they hung in there this long and hope to be able to dealing with these unresolved feelings soon. Right now I am often in a fight-flight mode and really am seeking safe shelter so that I can survive this in a safe location with safer support. Even though I do not wish this to any other victims or survivors, perhaps I am not the only one facing these obstacles. Btw Some of the perps who tried to kill me said to access any homeless shelter I would access due to their presenting gender.
There are been some news articles but few personal stories mentioning these experiences, making it even feel crazier and scarier. But as a victim there needs to be a safe place to be to stay. Otherwise how do I stay safe. Not all solutions from the book work without availability, funding or understanding.