Lindsey Palmer wrote the Redbook article, “10 Ways to Keep a Woman Safe from Domestic Violence“. SmartyGirl Readers look out for each other so I’ve re-posted two of my favorite, easy to do, tips from Palmer. Maybe this month you will have the opportunity to help a fellow SmartyGirl.
SmartyGirls know to be wise and not offer to “fix” another person’s problems. Disclaimer: SmartyGirlHome does not claim to be a legal resource or a counseling site. Please seek legal advice and medical attention from professionals.
Before offering help, define your boundaries. Are you able to provide a home cooked meal, transportation or temporary housing? Before committing, discuss with your spouse what he will be comfortable doing for your friend.
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Also if you have children, you may decide not to be involved directly in helping your girlfriend.
Why? Because you cannot be certain your children can take the upheaval of such an outside conflict or their ability to be discreet (i.e. not disclosing that someone is staying at your home because she is fleeing abuse).
Consider your children’s feelings and fears.
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24 hour Crisis Hotlines
- Shelters. Keep in mind that many shelters have a 3-step process: 45 minute phone screen, evaluation by an intake counselor and in person meeting before you can be eligible for a bed for the night.
This means that shelters may not be the first place to go for emergency housing since you may be put on a waiting list for several weeks. For example, if you are single and without children you will be considered lower priority than a woman fleeing with a child.
Ask about responsibilities, conditions and expectations before selecting a shelter for your housing. Find out if you must provide your own toiletries including bath towels and toilet paper. Inquire if you are allowed to store you belongings at the shelter and provide a combination lock while you are at work. If not, you may have to rent a storage space because storing items in your car may invite a break in.
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How will you pay your food bills? What are longer term, housing options?
- Food stamps and Section 8 (low income housing). If you were living with your boyfriend you may be evaluated by intake counselors more quickly in constrast to if you are still legally married but separated.
For instance if you are supporting yourself and living apart, you may still have a joint checking account that will be calculated and make you ineligible for government aide. However, you may consider private charities and church organizations that assist women.
Find out more about the housing options through these private charities.
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- What are some of the host’s “house rules”?
- Who else will be sharing the common living areas?
- Are their toilets, showers, and kitchens for common use?
- Will you be expected to prepare meals once per week, report to your host about status of separation, do chores or provide a stipend for utilities?
Stay only where your boundaries are respected. For instance if a religious course is mandatory and this makes you uncomfortable, you may choose not to accept the charity’s help.
- Mediation Services
Some mediation services offer a sliding scale the accomodates for partners who do not make the same wage. For instance, $300 per hour is a normal mediation service fee. This is for couples who are not using a restraining order but have come to an impasse about taking care of practical matters during separation.
- Law Enforcement
What if you need to request that another person stay away from your place or employment or temporary housing? You can specific personal conduct requests through court order.
Civil Harassment Restraining Order for California FAQ
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Where can you receive individual counseling or marriage counseling?
Kaiser Permanente Anger Management and Couple Communication Skills Health Courses taught by Marriage/Family Therapists
Church marriage counseling services
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Preparing for Marriage God’s Way: A Step-by-Step Guide for Marriage Readiness and After the Wedding Conflicts by Wayne Mack
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How Can I Be Sure? Questions to Ask Before You Get Married by Bob Philips
- Family Law Attorneys recommended on Yelp.com