One of the main practical barriers to leaving an abusive relationship is the thought of becoming homeless. Where will I go with my children, they don't deserve to loose everything, they will be scared, they will miss their friends, their school, what if I can't find anywhere? What about the dog, they love the dog, I just decorated the lounge it took me hours, he'll trash all our stuff, how will I get anything new, how will I pay the bills, who will help me? Where do I go for help, how do I get another house, do I need a deposit, I've got no money what will I do? Better to sit tight for now he might change and the children don't seem to notice too much, it'll be OK.
Imagine leaving your home, all of your things and everyone you know and then being told you have to go to a hostel. Imagine leaving your home, all of your things and everyone you know and then being told you have to go to a refuge. It may be that it has come to the point where you feel that anywhere is preferable to the abuse and violence but in reality it will be frightening and full of uncertainty.
At the refuge they help with the housing forms, your benefits will be put in your name, they have loaned you some cash and are kind and supportive. You must go to the housing office today and start the ball rolling, the staff are kind but you don't fully understand what they are telling you, its all so new, you've never had to do it before. Not many 3 bedroom houses around, private renting would be the quickest way to get rehoused but you are scared. At least with a local authority house you will be able to settle and not have to worry about a 6 month lease and moving everyone again, that just seems impossible, too much stress, upheaval, uncertainty, just what you don't need or the children.
"Refuge life is hectic, 5 of us in one bedroom, not much sleep, Jess still wets herself at night, Josh has nightmares, Anna can't get to sleep and Jake gets grumpy when everyone keeps him awake. The children ask everyday if they you can go home to get some of their stuff, interestingly they don't ask to go back their to live, they know he is still there. Today I found Josh and Anna tearing up some magazines which are there for everyone to share, I got angry and told them off, then I saw they were pictures of houses and different types of bedrooms, they were just dreaming, I felt so bad and sad. Was it really so terrible with him? At least we had our own bedrooms, own things, a clean, tidy home and didn't have to share with strangers. On Facebook Cassie said he had been in touch with her and said he wants us back and that we'll all go on that family holiday to Disney World he always promised the children.
Bidding number it through now so I can start to actively bid on a house, the children seem excited and want to join in but how do I know which is a good one? I don't know the areas they are in, are the schools good, how safe is it, will there be a nursery for Jess, will there be any work round there, will he be able to find us easily, are there any shops, are the buses good, is there a doctors nearby, how will I meet anyone? How to choose, its such a huge decision, what if I get it wrong and we don't like it? What if we have to move again because he does find us?
We've chosen two houses to bid on and are 2nd in line for the one we think we really want, we find out tomorrow, I can hardly sleep tonight, what if , what if, what if? We got it, the children are so excited and are planning their bedroom schemes as we speak, the trouble is we have NOTHING, no fridge, no cooker, no washing machine, no beds, no bedding, no curtains, no cutlery, no plates, no glasses, no cups, nothing. Refuge staff are helping a grant and charity applications which is great but so humiliating, I worked hard for all our lovely things, the Police say they went to see him and its all gone, so is he.
So after nearly 5 months of waiting, bidding and living in the refuge, we have to pack up and be in the new house by Monday so we'll be 'camping' at first! Some one donated some mattresses so that will do, we just want to be in there now and even Jake is looking forward to being back at school. Oh God, they will all need new uniforms, another form to beg for help just to buy something so necessary, so basic, will I ever get used to it?
The house is OK, schools are walking distance and the family next door are friendly and have children too, we all slept together on 2 mattresses last night, not ideal but we were all a bit nervous, our first night ever without him. Not much sleep but we are all full of energy to day, the grant came through so its off to Asda to start getting the children's duvets, curtains, bedding, they are so excited, maybe it will be alright now?"