What to expect
Our statewide confidential hotline 1-866-644-3574 has advocates standing by 24 hours a day. To find the nearest domestic violence program in your community go to our Crisis Center page.
- A caring listener - Anytime you are ready to talk trained advocates are ready to listen and help you sort out options.
- Emergency shelter. (see below for more information)
- Support groups - Domestic violence programs run groups for victims and some programs have support groups for children and teens.
- Legal advocacy - Programs offer assistance in obtaining restraining orders. Advocates can refer you to other free or low cost legal services.
- Information and help in obtaining public assistance.
- Shelters are free — no fees are charged to stay.
- The shelter program has established rules and policies in order to provide equality, safety and support to all residents.
- Most shelters have shared kitchens, common areas, and bathrooms.
- If you have children, you will probably all share one bedroom.
- You are responsible for taking care of your own children.
- All shelters must welcome service animals.
- However, most shelters cannot accommodate pets. They will work with you to make arrangements to have your pets cared for elsewhere.
- Shelters have laundry facilities and supply linens (sheets, towels and blankets).
- They usually have emergency food, clothing and toiletries available for the first few days of a stay.
- Shelters can be stressful — this is group living with others who are experiencing tough times. However advocates are available to help you manage the stress.
- You will be asked to honor the privacy of other residents by not discussing their names or situations with anyone else.
- Shelters are concerned about everybody's safety, so you may be asked to keep the location a secret.
- Visitors usually are not allowed.
- Do not use drugs or alcohol in shelter. If you know it will be hard for you to stop using, staff are available to help you maintain or reclaim your sobriety.
- No weapons are allowed in shelter, this includes guns and knives.
- Some shelters will expect you to be in the house at certain times.
Before you call a shelter think about anything that concerns you. Ask for any details you need so you'll feel as comfortable as possible in making a decision about whether or not to go to shelter.
Your rights in shelter:
Every shelter has a different list of client’s rights. At the very least you can expect that:
- You have the right to be treated with respect by the staff.
- You have the right to get assistance from staff.
- You have the right to ask questions about anything that is not clear to you.
- You have the right to equal access to the program’s resources.
- You have the right to talk with someone who will listen to you.
- You have the right to expect that your beliefs and traditions will be respected.
*this page was adapted from the Washington State Coalition Against Domestic Violence Website