What Can a Domestic Violence Program Do for You?
Domestic violence programs provide a variety of valuable services, such as 24-hour hotlines, confidential counseling and emergency housing (shelter), specifically for domestic violence victims and their children.
You don’t have to stay in a domestic violence shelter to get help. You can also use a domestic violence program whether or not you plan to stay in the relationship with your partner.
The person at a domestic violence program who will help you is an “advocate.” Advocates understand the criminal justice, Family Court, and social services systems, and they are familiar with other community resources that might be useful to you.
In addition to giving you information, advocates can often go with you to court, to the police station, or to social services, and provide you with practical and emotional support. Getting help from someone who has experience working with victims of domestic violence and who knows how the different systems work can make things a lot easier for you.
There are domestic violence services available in every county in the state. The New York State Coalition Against Domestic Violence provides a list of these agencies (www.nyscadv.org/statewide-dv- directory/).
Specific services may vary from one community to another, but most programs offer the following.
Domestic violence shelters offer a short-term safe place to stay for you and your children. They are not the same as homeless shelters. They provide a secure, confidential location and staff who are trained to assist domestic violence victims. While not every county has the ability to house males or LGBTQ victims within the domestic violence shelter, all programs will make appropriate arrangements for them. Some programs may even be able to help you find a safe place for your pets.
Every effort is made to keep the location of the shelter secret to protect the families who stay there. Domestic violence shelters do have rules that people who stay there have to follow, to help everyone stay safe. Most shelters expect you to share general chores and meal preparation with the other people staying there. You will be required to apply for temporary assistance through the Department of Social Services. If you are not eligible, you may be asked to pay a portion of your housing, but this rarely happens. You will be expected to begin your search for long term housing and/or employment right away. If you are already working, the shelter in your community may feel it is unsafe (for you or other residents) for you to keep your job and live in the shelter. However, they cannot make you quit your job. There may be other options to consider with the help of your advocate, such as working with your employer to relocate your position or finding shelter in a neighboring community.
Advocates are available 24 hours a day to provide emergency help and emotional support, information, admission into shelter, and referrals.
“No matter what happens, if you think you’re being abused, think about going to a support drop-in group.”
One-on-one counseling provides information and emotional support. Counseling can also help you think about the choices and options that work best for you.
Support groups are a way for domestic violence victims to gather together to talk about their experiences. They are a good place to learn about domestic violence, listen to others who have been abused, and share their stories, if they choose. Many people find that a support group provides resourceful information, gives them strength, and helps them feel less alone.
Services for Children
You can use a domestic violence program whether you plan to stay in the relationship with your partner or not.
Many domestic violence programs offer some or all of the following additional services for people who have been abused, whether or not they are in a shelter. These include:
- help getting medical care;
- help getting legal services for Family Court or for immigration issues;
- help with housing, furniture, and clothing;
- training and educational services;
- help finding employment;
- assistance with getting services such as health insurance, SNAP (formerly called food stamps), and temporary cash assistance;
- emergency transportation;
- interpretation services; and
- assistance with the completion of Crime Victims Assistance compensation forms.
For additional information about domestic violence programs, or to find the one closest to you, call the NYS Domestic and Sexual Violence Hotline at 1-800-942-6906.