DV Informed Tips for Finding Safe Housing

Finding a new place to live can feel exciting and stressful for anyone, but if you are a survivor escaping domestic violence, it can feel both overwhelming and liberating. There are safety concerns that survivors must often keep in mind. Listed below are tips specifically for survivors on how to navigate the process for finding a safe place to live, including:

Tips for Finding a Safe Neighborhood

Tips for Finding a Safe Neighborhood

Tip 1: Visit the neighborhood at various times throughout the day and night. A neighborhood can look pleasant and quiet during the day when most people are at work and/or school. Try to go back to the location in the evenings and on weekends. You may get a different perspective.

Tip 2: Pay attention to how well the streets are lit. Are there any broken or burned out lights? Are sidewalks and alley ways too dark?

Tip 3: If you drive, notice where and when the available parking spaces are located.   Street parking may be the only option for you. If this is the case, try to get a good idea of when spaces in front of your residence are available and if you can avoid walking a long way, especially at night.

Tip 4: It is always a good idea to identify where the local law enforcement station is located and how often they patrol the area. Being able to view the neighborhood at different times of the day and night may give you a chance to observe whether or not there is a police presence in the area. Inquire about any neighborhood watch groups that patrol the streets at night, providing an extra layer of community safety.

Tip 5: If you use public transportation, make sure you locate the nearest bus stops and metro stations. In many neighborhoods the bus stops are near wooded areas. Be mindful of these dark, unlit areas, especially at night when fewer people are around.

Tip 6: If you have children that walk to school, identify a safe route for them to take and develop a strategy for ensuring that they make it to and from their destination safely.

Tip 7: Look up the crime statistics for the neighborhood you’re considering by visiting:www.crimeindc.org

or

http://mpdc.dc.gov/mpdc/cwp/view,a,1239,q,543329.asp

Download the full [PDF] list of tips for finding a safe neighborhood.

Tips for Your New Home

Tips for Your New Home

Now that you have made the courageous decision to leave and find your own safe place to live, keep these safety tips in mind:

Tip 1: Consider getting a PO Box.

Having a PO Box is a good safety measure for several reasons:

  • If you are relocating temporarily or find that you need to relocate quickly, it minimizes the need for changing your address or having to go back to an unsafe situation to get your mail.
  • It minimizes the risk of your abuser accessing your personal information.
  • Having a PO Box can also be a safer option if you are still in an abusive relationship and want to begin receiving mail about available housing options, properties, etc.
  • Apartment complex mailboxes are sometimes situated either outside of the entryway or on a walk way several feet from the entrance.   This could potentially put you in a vulnerable situation if someone were to follow you home.

To inquire about obtaining a PO Box, contact your local US Post Office. You can locate a post office by going to www.usps.com.

If you decide to not get a PO Box, be sure your name is not on the mailbox so that no one can locate your apartment.

Tip 2: Inquire about front door security, and plan for your safety.

As you check out various apartment buildings and residences, consider the following safety elements:

  • Does the building have a secured entryway? Check to see how all entrances and exits are secured.
  • Does the building have a person at the front desk? If so, be sure to know if the front desk person is responsible for letting visitors in the building?
  • If there is a person who manages the front desk, give him or her the name and picture of anyone who you do not want visiting you, as well as a copy of the protection order, if there is one in place.
  • Have a back-up plan for what you will do if the unwanted visitor is able to enter the front door. You might want to consider asking the desk manager to call the police and notify you immediately if this happens.
  • If the apartment does have an intercom system in which the resident buzzes the visitor in, take your time and make sure you identify each person calling you. Ask if they are alone or any other questions that will help you to feel safe about letting the visitor in to your building.
  • If someone who you do not want in the building does get buzzed in by a desk person or another resident, keep a record of when it happens and report it to the building manager or landlord. In buildings without front desk security personnel, a general memo can be posted reminding tenants not to allow strangers into the building.
  • Make sure that your name and apartment number does not appear on the intercom system or on the mailboxes.

Tip 3: Assess safety in stairwells and elevators.

  • If your apartment building does not have an elevator, make sure that the stairwell is well lit. Be aware of any alcoves or blind spots.
  • If the building has an elevator, ask the building manager if security cameras are installed and if the elevator has an emergency button. Consider getting instructions on how to contact someone if an emergency occurs in the elevator.

Tip 4: Assess parking safety.

  • If you drive, be mindful of where you have to park in relationship to your front door.   Always check out whether there is adequate lighting for street, garage or lot parking.
  • If you have to park on the street, inquire about any parking permits you may need.
  • Some garages and large parking lots have emergency call boxes and security cameras; make sure you are aware of where they are located.   Inquire if those amenities are available.

Tip 5: Secure windows on the ground level.

  • Check to see if the apartment windows on or near the ground level have security mechanisms built in such as iron bars or extra locking features on the inside windows.

Tip 6: Learn strategies for keeping yourself safe.

  • You may want to consider taking a class to learn strategies for keeping yourself safe and responding to abuse, harassment and assault.

Download the full [PDF] list of Tips for Your New Home.

Tips for Reclaiming Your Financial Independence

Tips for Reclaiming Your Financial Independence

Economic abuse is a part of the cycle of violence that often plagues survivors well after they have left an abusive relationship. Economic abuse includes such things as:

  • Damaged credit by the abuser;
  • Stolen funds; and
  • Limited to no control over your personal finances.

Tip 1: Get your credit report.

This is the critical first step to getting your financial life back on track. By obtaining a copy of your credit report you will be able to see any and all debts that have gone into collections. You may not even be aware that you have debt. If your abusive partner had access to your personal information and could open credit cards or other accounts in your name or jointly and they are in default, they will likely be on your credit report. The contact information of each creditor is usually listed on the report so that you can contact them directly to resolve any issues. By law you are entitled to one free credit report each year. You can go towww.annualreport.com to obtain your free copy.

Knowing what’s on your credit report and knowing your credit score is important for many reasons including securing housing. Landlords often will require a credit history. If you’re armed with information and a plan to resolve credit issues, some landlords will negotiate with you.

Safety Alert – When obtaining your credit report keep the following safety precautions in mind:

  • If you are still in the house with your abuser, have a website ready to switch to if he/she enters the room;
  • Delete all temporary files and history on your computer;
  • If the credit report is being mailed to you and you do not have a new address yet, consider the following:
  • If you are already working with an advocate in the community, ask for her assistance using her computer and mailing the report to her office.
  • You may also want to consider having the report mailed to your job or a trusted friend or relative.

Tip 2: Keep a log of your spending.

Every day for one week write down everything that you spend money on and how much you spend. If on Monday you buy a cup of coffee for breakfast and it costs $1.50, write that down. If you buy lunch for $7.35, write that down, if you buy a candy bar out of the vending machine for $.65 write that down. You may be amazed at your spending habits.

Tip 3: Save money.

Figure out where you can save money. Once you have tracked your spending for one week, use that information to figure out where you can decrease your spending and possibly move that money toward paying down debt or into savings.

Tip 4: Create a cost of living plan.

Once you have checked your credit report and have figured out exactly what your debts are and how you spend your money, write out a cost of living plan based on your monthly expenses and income. A cost of living plan can help you track how much money you need to live on each month. Depending on how comfortable you are with doing this, you may want to get help from an advocate.

Tip 5: Seek financial management assistance.

Many local agencies offer budgeting and financial planning classes, workshops and even one-on-one counseling. Some organizations have specific groups for survivors of domestic violence. To get started, contact one the following organizations:

  • Women Empowered Against Violence
  • The Women’s Center
  • Change Inc. 202.387.3725
  • Lydia’s House

Download the full [PDF] list of  Tips for Reclaiming Your Financial Independence.

Tips for Staying Connected to Support Systems

Tips for Staying Connected to Support Systems

Once you have secured your own housing and have regained your independence, you may find it helpful to connect with or remain connected to support networks who understand what you’ve been through and can assist you. The following organizations are non-residential organizations that provide such things as counseling, legal assistance, medical care, support groups and general advocacy for domestic violence survivors.

AYUDA, INC

Address: 1707 Kalorama Road, NW Washington, DC 20009
Phone: 202.387.4848
Fax: 202.387.0324
Website: ayudainc.org

Population Served: Low-income Latino/Immigrant women

Services: Bilingual legal and social services such as handling of temporary and civil protection orders and the issuance, modification, extension and enforcement of such orders, separation and/or divorce orders, custody and visitation rights, spousal and child support.

Admission Process: Please call the office or drop-in, Monday-Friday, 9AM to 5PM.

Notes: Fully staffed with bilingual Spanish/English members.

BREAK THE CYCLE

PO Box 21034 Washington, DC 20009
Phone: 202.824.0707
Fax: 202.824.0747
Website: www.thesafeplace.org

Population Served: Youth (12 to 24 years old)

Services: Training for teen dating violence. Preventive education, free legal services, advocacy and support.

DC RAPE CRISIS CENTER

PO Box 34125 Washington, DC 20043
Phone: 202.232.0789
TTY: 202.328.1371
Hotline: 202.333.7273
Fax: 202.387.3812

Population Served: Individuals, single and two-parent families, and couples.

Services: 12 free counseling sessions are provided for survivors of adult rape and 6 months of free counseling is provided for survivors who have experienced trauma in childhood. Trained counselors are on duty 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Other services include: companion services, community education, literature, self-defense, advocacy, SANE/SART Program (Sexual Assault Response Team).

DEAF ABUSED WOMEN’S NETWORK (DAWN)

Address: 1050 17 th Street, NW, Suite 600 Washington, DC 20036
Phone: 202.861.0258 (TTY)
Fax: 202.466.3226
Website: www.deafdawn.org

Population Served: Deaf of hearing and Deaf-Blind individuals.

Services: On-going weekly survivors support group, 24-hour TTY hotline, outreach, education and training for community agencies, organizations and service providers.

RAMONA’S WAY

Address: Greater Southeast Hospital, Domestic Violence Intake Center, Washington, DC 20032 

Phone:
202-257-6790
Website: www.ramonas-way.org/ 

Population Served: Chemically dependent women that are survivors of emotional and physical abuse.

Services: Ramona’s Way provides individual counseling, case management, education, advocacy, support groups, alternative therapies, information and referrals, safe.

DVRP ASIAN/PACIFIC ISLANDER DOMESTIC VIOLENCE RESOURCE PROJECT

PO Box 14268 Washington, DC 20044
Phone: 202.464.4477
Fax: 202.986.9332
Website: www.dvrp.org

Population Served: Women who are in or were in abusive relationships.

Services Provided: Helps domestic violence survivors access resources and improve their safety regardless of income level, immigration status, and English language proficiency.   DVRP services include: peer support, safety planning, interpretation and translation, court accompaniment, emergency transportation, financial empowerment, assistance in applying for public benefits, referrals for shelter, legal and social service and other support services, as needed

Notes: DVRP has advocates who speak: Cantonese, Farsi, Hindi, Hmong, Japanese, Korean, Mandarin, Nepal, Punjabi, Tagalog, Thai, Vietnamese and Urdu

WOMEN EMPOWERED AGAINST DOMESTIC VIOLENCE (WEAVE)

Address: 1111 16th Street, NW Suite 200 Washington, DC 20036
Phone: 202.452.9550
Fax: 202.452.8255

Website: www.weaveincorp.org

Population Served: Single, adult women, women with children, and teen survivors of relationship violence and abuse.

Services Provided: Emergency civil legal protection assistance, safety and needs assessments, full legal representation, advice and mentoring for self representation, group and individual counseling, clinical case management, economic empowerment, teen dating violence services, education and training, technical assistance for attorneys and referrals for other services.

Notes: WEAVE will help victims of domestic violence regardless of their income level. However, whenever appropriate, WEAVE utilizes a moderate scale for individuals with means.