Many victims of domestic abuse avoid making the call for help out of fear of what will happen next. Everyone’s experience is unique, but the information below will give you an idea of what to expect and how domestic violence services can help you.


When you first call for help, you will be asked a number of questions about your abuser and the abuse you’ve experienced. If you are entering a shelter with children, you’ll be asked to provide information about them, like their names, ages, birthdates, etc. You will also be asked for your social security number. In New York State, undocumented status will not prevent you from entering a shelter. In other states, you should check with a local hotline before providing this information. Unfortunately, you may need to tell your story more than once before you’re able to gain access to a shelter.

Many victims worry about what it will be like at an emergency shelter. Everyone has heard about rat and roach infested shelters where there may even be people shooting up in the hallways. Every place is different, but domestic violence shelters are not like homeless shelters. Take a look at a slideshow of one of our shelters and you’ll see that they can be very warm and secure places.

Domestic violence shelters provide a safe place to stay temporarily. The location of the shelter must be kept confidential in order to protect the safety of both residents and staff. You will not be permitted to share the address with anyone.

Domestic violence shelters also provide services to assist victims in overcoming the immediate trauma of their situation and to help them plan their next steps. You can expect to be assigned a Case Manager who will meet with you weekly to provide counseling as well as assistance with legal, financial, medical, educational, vocational, childcare and other issues. You will also work with a Housing Specialist who will assist you in finding safe permanent housing. There will be support groups on site as well as recreational activities for you and for your children. Some of these groups or activities may be mandatory.

Non-Residential Services

Not all victims of domestic violence need to go to a shelter in order to be safe. A non-residential domestic violence program will provide safety planning, counseling, case management, support groups, advocacy and other services.  Some programs are in secret locations and may not give you their address until they have met you in person at a neutral location. Other programs may conduct a telephone screening and then provide you with an appointment.