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Going to a Shelter

Every shelter and safe housing program is different, but the following is generally what you can expect.

Going to a Shelter

Before making the decision to enter a shelter or safe housing program, you will talk with an advocate about your situation. If the program does not have space or it is not a good fit for you, the advocate will try to help you find another safe place. At Day One, you always have the power to make decisions for yourself.

What to Expect if You Go to a Shelter

Every shelter and safe housing program is different, but the following is generally what you can expect:

  • Safe, private location. Shelters and safe housing programs make everyone’s safety their first priority. You may be asked to keep the location a secret.
  • No fees. Shelters and safe housing programs are free.
  • Transportation. Most programs will provide transportation to a shelter or safe housing program. Many also offer residents bus tokens and transportation to appointments.
  • Children’s safety. As advocates, we understand that children are also impacted by domestic violence. Advocates will be able to work with both you and your children offering support, information and parenting resources. Domestic violence programs are mandated reporters of child abuse.
  • Self-provided childcare. Your children will be under your watch and care at all times. Childcare may be provided during groups and other activities.
  • Help finding a safe place for your pet. Shelters will work with you to find a place for your pets to be cared for elsewhere. Most shelters do not allow pets. Learn more about pet protection.
  • Confidentiality. Your information will be private and will not be shared with other agencies unless you give your written permission. You will be asked to honor the privacy of other program participants by not discussing their names or situations with anyone else.
  • Food, clothing, and toiletries. Shelters and safe housing programs will provide basic necessities for you and your family at no cost.
  • Sleeping arrangements. You may share common areas and might be asked to share a bedroom. In most shelters you will share the kitchen, common living areas, and bathrooms with other residents. 
  • Laundry facilities. Shelters and safe housing programs usually have laundry facilities and provide guests with linens (sheets, towels and blankets).
  • Visitors. Visitors are generally not allowed in the shelter or safe housing program, but you can meet with your friends and family elsewhere.

Some programs:

  • Allow you to bring your pets
  • Have computers you can use to check your email and access online resources
  • Offer free cell phones for 911 calls only

What to Expect if you Go to a Safe Housing Program

  • Your stay will be short-term. Safe housing programs offer short stays, between 3 and 7 days.
  • You will have daily contact with an advocate. Throughout your stay, advocates will work closely with you to help find a safe place to move on to. Advocates are available in person weekdays and by phone on weekends.
  • Options for moving on. If you still need a safe place when your stay at the safe housing program ends, an advocate will try to assist you to find a longer-term shelter/housing and make every effort to provide transportation for you to get there.

*Portions of the text on this page were adapted from the Washington State Coalition Against Domestic Violence, and is used with their permission.