A shelter is what the people in it choose to make of it :) 6/6/10

by Jane

After The New You discussion we had on Saturday, I have been thinking a lot and looking deep within myself to find answers. I ended up not being able to sleep last night, and finally around 7am this morning my mind cleared up enough that I could.

I woke up around 1pm, went downstairs and talked with one of the volunteers that does counseling. I had a lot of questions about myself and those around me and needed answers!

We talked about how when I first came into this DV shelter, I felt safe and comfortable (other then my normal trigger stuff), and now I don't. We left our room doors open and unlocked. I never worried about people taking what little things I have.

People washed their dishes, cleaned up after themselves, and respected the rules of the house. And now everything is in chaos. People don't respect rules, and do whatever they want, and don't care how it affects people.

She asked me why rules being honored seemed to matter so much to me? The answer? Other then for the obvious reason that when the rules were made for this house, the advocates put a lot of time and thoughts into them and there are very good reasons for each and every rule.

My abuser had such a hold on me I used to have to ask permission to go to the bathroom. My whole life I had been controlled one way or another. Now that I am free for the first time in my life, I'm out of my comfort zone. I need some sort of structure in order to feel safer. If you would have asked me a few months ago what I wanted for lunch, I honestly would not have been able to tell you. I'm learning how to think for myself. It's a long process, but I'm making consistent steps towards my goals.

Every day we make choices. What choices we make affects those around us. Everything we do here needs to be a team effort. We as people can choose to work together to make things run as smooth as possible, or we can argue about dumb things that don't matter, steal, and lie to each other and get nowhere. A shelter is what the people in it choose to make of it.

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My confidentiality got breached and I'm a wreck :(

by Jane Doe

The day started out great as it was a beautiful day. I got asked by my roommate if I could take her and her two children to go to her school and get DV resources for a generous amount of gas money and some coffee.

I agreed because it was a good opportunity for me to get some extra resources, have a little bit of fun, and have some extra gas on hand. We got to the coffee shop, and her friend was working. There was also a man sitting at one of the tables.

She introduces me by name loudly, and tells her friend I am her roommate at (the name of the shelter that we are staying at). When we get to the car I tell her that I was very upset because she just announced my name and the name of the shelter we are at.

I asked her why she would do that when she knows I have a stalker after me, and there's always a possibility that he has someone following me as he has found me in two other shelters, etc.

The shelter I am at.. they make us park at least two blocks from the shelter and he has keys to my car. On top of that he goes near the area I happen to be in once a week and sometimes more.

If he found my location he could easily take off with my car and nobody would realize it until it was too late. My car is all I have. How can someone be so careless? She did apologize but error may have just jeopardized my safety.

I didn't want her and her two children to get kicked out and end up on the streets, so I didn't tell the name of who did this to me to the advocates. But I did let them know what happened so they could keep their eye out for suspicious callers.

They also developed a safety plan for my car, and for me. I am so scared because if he finds me this time I may have nowhere to go as the shelters are all full and this is my 4th one so my options are next to none.


Why does it feel like when things start to get better something F'd up always happens?.

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My view on The New You discussion 6/5/10

by Jane

Today in class we discussed the "The Trauma Triangle." At the very top of the triangle, we have the rescuer, and on the bottom ends we have the perpetrator and the victim. In any bad situation, us as people play the role of one of the above.

Here is a prime example where I tried to play the rescuer role, and end up playing the perpetrator role. (yes victims can become their worst enemy- the perpetrator.)

So let's say Jane Doe (that's ME that's who) is living in a shelter with 29 other residents. There is a rule posted clearly on the door by the advocates "No laundry from 9pm-9am." Jane Doe had a stressful day, and she wanted to leave to go to the store at 11:45pm to get ice cream.

She was told by the advocate on shift that she could not go because she could be 5 mins late to the 12am curfew and then be in trouble for being late. She respected the fact that rules are rules, and that even though we may not always understand them, they are there for a reason. Shrugging it off, she watched a movie, and then went to her room.

She heard the laundry going loudly (the walls are thin), and then shuts off both the washer and the dryer. Rules are rules right? She soaks in her bathtub and then hears the laundry go CLANK CLANK CLANK, shaking the walls and ruining her bathtub quiet time experience.

She then gets out of the tub, puts on her bathrobe, and then walks to the laundry room to shut off that horrible sound. To her surprise, there is a resident (we will call her Amy) guarding over the washing machine in case I was to attempt to shut it off again.

Amy sternly says "Why are you shutting off MY laundry?" I tell her that the house has a rule that nobody can do laundry from 9pm-9am. She snaps "I did not know that!" I tell her that that is one of the first things they tell you at orientation, and then pointed at the sign clearly stating the facts. "Well I don't care, I'm doing my laundry any ways!" She snarls.

I tell her that the washing machine is bothering me and it's quiet time and that me and the rest of the residents would appreciate some peace and quiet. She stated that she needs to do laundry now, and that the only person the laundry sound is bothering... is me. I suggest that if she must do laundry at 2am, then she do it downstairs. She tells me that I broke the rules by touching her laundry. (This is a transference tactic that she used to take the heat off of herself).

By this time I lose it and I raise my voice telling her that I didn't touch her damn laundry I turned the machines off. I add my extra two cents in and tell her that she's being selfish and that she has to live with herself for disturbing the entire house. I walk back to my room. I realise at this point that I was in the wrong because by raising my voice, likely I disturbed the residence even more then they had already been.

I called the advocate on shift, and let him know that Amy is doing laundry, and that it's very loud. He enforces the rule. She waits till he goes downstairs and then turns the laundry back on. I end up giving up and cover my ears with pillows until the sound finally stopped.

I should have handled this way better. First off, yelling doesn't solve anything, and I ended up making a bad situation even worse. I should have simply removed myself from the trauma triangle after it was clear she would not listen to simple reasoning, and called in an advocate who would have played the rescue role. Second, and she didn't know this, but loud sounds late at night are a huge trigger for me. It's part of my PTSD.

Thirdly, as a victim sometimes it's easier to just give in. I am disappointed in myself because I want to be much stronger then that. The next day, we apologized to each other. Three days later it is 3am and someone else is doing laundry. Instead of trying to sleep I am writing this blog.

I don't have the patience to fight this battle right now. I just want to feel the same as everyone else wants, peace. So here I am, allowing myself to take the victim role because I'm afraid that if I try and take the rescue role, I will end up taking the perpetrator role again. I really hate the feeling of being a perpetrator because I know all too well on how it feels to be the victim. Perhaps I am my own worst critic.

Something else came up at the discussion. It was told that I take the rescue role a lot. I agreed. Someone mentioned the reason why they thought that I took the role is because I like the feeling of being empowered. Though it was a hurtful comment, I took apart myself and analysed myself to make sure that my intentions for taking the rescue role was of pure heart and not because of personal gain.

After talking to people that know me really well, and me spending the day analysing myself I found the comment that had been made to be bogus. Though the side effects of why I help others is empowering, it is not why I do it. I do it because I have spent 32 years of feeling an extreme amount of mental pain. Nobody should ever have to feel the pain I've been through.

Unfortunately there are others out there that have had it way worse then I have. However, If I can talk to someone and make them feel a fraction less pain then they did before I started talking to them, then it was worth it. I've allowed myself to be in the trauma triangle my whole life, and never stepped out of that circle up until 5 days ago. I was uneducated, and if I had known in my past what I know now, a lot of the bad things that have happened to me, never would have happened.

I enjoy watching people grow, and it makes me feel happy when I see others happy. They say misery loves company. And happiness is contagious. I try and live my life the best I can. I refuse to allow my damage to take away from my hopes and dreams.

I choose life.

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Scared and warn down

by Jane Jane Doe

I'm dealing with a serious stalker situation. I've literally lost all the good in my life trying to stay alive. I had to give up my child, I had him at my mothers until my ex husband (who was my first abuser) found out about my situation, hired a fancy lawyer, took primary custody, hired a guardian ad liam, and has made it so the only way I can get unsupervised visitation with my son is if the guardian does a walk threw of my location, which would possibly put my location in the spotlight of my abuser. He justified this to the courts stating that he was afraid that I may either take off with our son, or that my abuser may find me and harm our son.

I've taken every precaution to keep my stalker away from me. Once he found me at work, so I stopped working, he's put a tracking device under my car, so I have a mechanic check my car every few days. He tracked me threw my cell phone, so I got a go phone, he's used my friends to get information on my whereabouts, so I dropped all of my friends.

I am waiting on my ex husband who got fired from his job three months ago, to pay off the debt that he owes so I can get my name and social security number changed and be able to live a normal life again.

The last shelter I was at he has not found me at so I am obviously doing something right. However my time is up here and there are no shelter openings anywhere, except for the two shelters he's found me at. The staff is trying to do a shelter swap. That's when they would swap me with someone from another shelter. But it's not looking good.

I was told they would not make me sleep in my car but the only other option is to put me at a non confidential shelter that would put me even more at risk considering A it's not confidential, and B it's close to one of my abusers family members. And C, keeps me away from the counseling and support that I need so desperately.

I realise I'm not being rational, and my feelings will pass but I just feel like giving up. I'm so tired of running and being warn down. I miss my son. I just feel like putting a sign on my back asking my abuser to come get me and finish what he started. When will this end? He's ruined my life!!!!!!!

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You are your own best advocate!

by Jane Doe

As Jennasy has ingrained into my head over and over again “You are your own best advocate.” The shelter I am now at is a 28 day shelter. Yet they tell their residents they won’t help them get any information on transitional housing until they have been in their shelter for at least 7-10 days.

In my opinion this is wrong because sometimes it can take months to get to the top of these transitional housing lists, so it is something folks should be doing from day one.

I had applied for the new shelters transitional housing program when I was in a different shelter. The complications of my situation has made it so that the only housing I can get is for confidential housing, and the lists for those are next to none.

I asked them if they could please check on the status of my housing for me. The advocate refused to call for me, and then refused to find the number for me and suggested that I check on my application.

I told them that my application was at the other shelter, so instead of getting the number for me, they suggested I call my old shelter. Can you believe that? They tell me to call my old shelter to get information on their own program! LOL!!!

I called my old shelter, got the number, and called them. I should know if I have been accepted in the next few days. In addition, I have a phone screening for a different transitional program tomorrow morning.

I finished making my phone calls, did my chores, and saw that one of the other residents was literally in tears. Apparently her 28 days were up and she had applied for every transitional housing available, while taking care of her two small children and working a full time job.

She was literally less then 24 hours away from her and her children being on the streets. If she moves out of the area she will lose her job and her kids will lose their daycare. The advocates refused to help her, stating they felt she didn’t qualify for an extension because her abuser is now far away. The only other option for housing is at a family members who is extremely abusive and will revictimize her and her children.

I know I’m not supposed to be rescuing people and I realize it’s important for me to focus on myself but I had already done everything I could for me today. I coached her on how to better communicate her story and she listened to my advice. Tomorrow morning she has 3 screenings. Hopefully she will get into one of the programs.

From what I’ve seen the transitional housing programs and the emergency shelters are all very full. There could be 30 applicants competing for one emergency DV shelter slot. When talking to the advocates you need to be very honest about your situation, and at the same time be graphic enough that they can feel whatever abuse your going through.

The other thing I noticed that is helpful is to get the name, shift times, and days working on the advocate you’re speaking to. This way you don’t have to revictimize yourself over and over by having to tell multiple people from the same agency your painful story of why you need shelter.

My prayers are with the woman I helped. Tomorrow is a new day so hopefully everything will work out for her.

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New shelter

by Sonja Simpkins
(Atlanta, GA)

Hello everyone,

My name is Sonja and i'm a survivor. I stayed married for 20 years before I woke up. The reason I stayed so long was because of my children. I thought it was the right thing to do. I didn't realize I was doing more harm then good, until I started educating myself through college classes.

I was working as a case manager for welfare. My job there was to help women to become self sufficient. I had this female client that would never open up. One day she decieded to talk to me. Thats when she told me her husband stabbed her 18 times in front of her children and left her for dead. I didn't know what to say, but continued to listen. A chill went through my body. After she left, I talked to a co-worker and I told her what had happened. I told her that's a sign. Its time for me to get out before its to late.

At that point, is when I made that change. That was the best thing I could have done for myself. I have now been divorced for almost 10 years. I am really enjoying life and it feels so good. I thank God everyday for giving me my life back. God has blessed me. I have a good job, a home owner and a new car. It really feels good.

My goal is to have shelters for battered women across the USA. I am in the process of trying to open a shelter in Milwaukee, Wi and in Atlanta, GA. My goal for these shelters is to offer everything a woman and her children need to keep her from returning home. I am also in the process of writing a book and starting a magazine. I will post a copy of the mock up. I would like for you to give me your honest opinion. Until next time, stay safe and blessed.


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My Newest Journey

by Jane Doe

I had a mechanic check my car inside and out for tracking devices the day before my new journey. I arrived at a specific location, and was given directions to the new shelter.

I parked two blocks away as told by the advocates for safety reasons. I rang the door bell, watching the security cameras. I came in and was greeted by an advocate. The first thing I noticed was a butterfly painted on one of the wall. I did my intake, and was given a tour. My room is on the 4th floor and there are no elevators. There are only a few bathrooms, not counting the staff only bathroom.

The house has a very strong foul odor. There is one computer that residents are allowed to use but it's in the staff room, not very accessible, and many of the websites are blocked.

Each room has 4 beds, with the exception of one room that has more beds. The kitchen has one stove, and very little food is accessible to the house. There is one washer and dryer for everyone to use, and I've been told it takes several cycles for the clothes to completely dry.

They have a sign up sheet to sign up to use it. So far from what I've seen people don't follow the rules as I've signed up twice in two days to use it and during my times it was already in use.

When a resident brought the issue up to one of the advocates they were told to write a note on the washing machine to please use the sign up sheet next time. **shrugs**

The smoking section is outside but secured. They have special rooms, family room, teen room, and even a women's refuge room where no children are allowed.

My room has 4 beds (all twins) which two adults and 3 children are assigned to. The children in my room are very loud, and also have the flu. :(

There is no specific room assigned for trauma victims. There is a clothing bank room, though. The advocates stay only in the office instead of mingling with the residents.

The advocates provide lots of opportunities, and they do outings on the weekends with the kids. They even offer special age appropriate classes for the kids ages 7 and up.

They have an onsite doctor that comes once a week, and they offer group once a week. There are no phones in the bedrooms, but they do have a resident phone room.

We have daily and weekend chores, but it doesn't seem like this is enforced as this shelter doesn't appear as clean as other shelters I've stayed at along this journey to be free from violence.

The advocates pick out your toiletries for you which consists of 1 shampoo, 1 conditioner, 1 toothbrush, 1 toothpaste, and a bar of soap.

The toilet paper rolls in the bathrooms have locks on them. I guess that's so people can't steal them? They seem to have a lot of resources for transitional housing , but the residents I spoke to were clueless about any of the programs.

I remembered what an advocate once told me "You are your best advocate." I'm prepared to be my best advocate and have been for the 1 night and two days I have been here. I signed up for all of the available programs cause I refuse to sit around here and be depressed.

I talked to an advocate ahout the transitional program I applied to and it sounds like I'll find out if I got accepted into the program in about a week.

Today one of the residents really made me mad and it was all I could do to take myself out of the trauma triangle and walk away from the situation. I was literally seconds from becoming a perpetrator! :(

She claims he never layed a hand on her and that she hates it here and has lots of family support and wants to get back with her babies daddy. So why are there woman like me that it took 2 weeks of begging and pleading to get accepted into a shelter when there are people in the shelter that have other places to go, but don't want to be here?

And why are there scandalist women in these shelters that haven't been abused pretending like they have been abused just so they don't have to stay in a normal homeless shelter?

If a woman like me was put into a normal homeless shelter I would end up in a loony bin! Why are their abusers in the shelter abusing women like us? Haven't we been through enough?

**taking a deep breath and am removing myself from the trauma triangle!***

On a funny note today I had to go to the bathroom really bad and the bathroom on my floor and the one underneath me were both in use and by the time I got to the one on the bottom floor I sneezed which in return caused me to almost potty myself!

It's shift change time and I have to leave but I will blog again when I can. Thanks to everyone that has supported me.

Love you guy's! :)

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