If you no longer feel safe living in your current home, you may want to find another place to live. Are there friends or family members with whom you could safely stay for a while? Would your abuser look for you there or harass you or your host? Could you go to a domestic violence shelter?
Domestic violence shelters are safe houses at undisclosed locations, where abused women and their children can find refuge for a period of time. A mother and her children would share a bedroom. The residents share housework and cooking. Food is provided. If a woman does not have income, the Department of Social Services can cover the cost. If a woman is working, has childcare, and it's safe for her to continue to work, she will contribute to the cost of her stay. Undocumented women can receive help too.
In Westchester County, there are 49 beds in the shelters for victims of domestic violence. If no beds are available in Westchester, you can seek shelter in another county or call the Department of Social Services Emergency Services at (914) 995-2099 and they will find a place for you to stay.
Protect your pets
Many times women are afraid to leave home for fear their abusers will harm or hold family pets hostage. Local veterinarians who understand domestic violence may board your pet in an emergency for free. Check ahead of time so you are prepared in an emergency. Try to use someone unknown by your abuser.
Secure your living space
Ask the courts, phone and utility companies, the Department of Motor Vehicles, schools and your workplace to keep your address confidential. Other things you can do to keep your living space safe are:
- Change your locks and make sure your abuser does not get a key
- Replace flimsy doors with secure ones
- Install security systems: alarms, extra locks and window locks and bars
- Keep a "fire ladder" handy for escape or have a rope or sheets to tie together
- Have your mail sent to a Post Office box, a commercial mail drop or a different address