The Two Things Your DV Shelter Needs Most

01-28-2016 9:35 AM

It’s nearly February. The dust from the holidays has settled, and we are well into winter doldrums here in New England. Valentine’s Day is approaching. For women in DV shelters, this time of year can be very bleak. The New Year is a time of starting over and setting goals. But by February, hope fades as the true work of moving forward looms ahead.

As you can imagine, starting over seems overwhelming. Many women come with their children and little or nothing else.

Donations of all kinds help us meet the basic needs of our families. We receive donations of daily necessities — such as food, feminine care products, towels, blankets, linens, pajamas, socks, underwear and toiletries. We could never afford to purchase everything we need for the 130+ individuals who live in our shelter each year. Thank goodness these things are donated!

However, the things that can help our survivors the most can’t be bought and donated.

That’s why our biggest need is money.

Re-building a life from domestic violence is challenging and requires resources. Here are some things we simply can’t get donated:

  • Transportation. If a woman comes with a car, she will still need money for gas and repairs. Without a car, she still needs a way to get to court hearings, doctor appointments, job interviews and even work. The most critical transportation may be getting a woman from one shelter to another for her safety. This may require a taxi, bus or train.

  • Birth Certificates and other important documents. When fleeing a dangerous situation, women leave their birth certificates, social security card and other papers behind. However, they will need to be replaced before applying for a job or housing.

  • Job training or license to work. A former client tells us one of the best things we did for her was to help her reinstate her Certified Nursing Assistant license, so she could get back to work. That led to her getting a car and her own apartment.

  • Affordable housing and security deposits. When we can help someone with a security deposit, she can move out when she is ready, making room for someone else to move into our shelter.

  • Our services. At the end of the day, it’s our services that help someone regain their self-esteem and move forward. Paying, developing and retaining expert staff takes money.

But our greatest need can’t be bought. What we need most is awareness. Domestic violence affects the entire community, not just a family. People need to understand this and hold abusers accountable. We must work together to change a society that makes abuse and violence so prevalent.

We need a world where everyone is safe. And that will take all of us.

Emma Palzere-Rae is Director of Development & Communications at Safe Futures, which provides free, confidential services to approximately 5,000 women, children and men impacted by domestic violence and sexual assault in southeastern Connecticut every year.