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Women receiving hug in support group

If you need help, contact your local domestic violence program or call a confidential domestic violence hotline.


What to expect if you call a hotline

  • Direct connection to the domestic violence program near you.
  • Help to find resources in your area including safe shelter, advocacy, counseling, and legal assistance.
  • Crisis assistance, emotional support, and safety planning.
  • Access to hotline advocates in 170 languages through interpreter services.

What to expect if you call a program

  • A caring listening ear. All programs have people who can listen and help you sort out options.
  • Advocacy services. Most programs have specially trained advocates who can help with public benefits, housing, disability services, immigration, employment protections, and more.
  • Emergency shelter. Many programs offer shelter or other emergency housing solutions. Some programs have longer term housing for survivors and programs to support survivors to find safe, permanent housing.
  • Support groups. Some programs run groups for children, youth, and adults.
  • Legal advocacy. Most programs offer information about protective orders and other civil matters. Most do not provide legal counsel, but can refer you to free or low cost attorneys.
  • Crisis services. Many programs offer 24-hour crisis services.

What to expect if you go to a shelter

Every shelter is different, but usually you can expect that:

  • Shelters are free—no fees are charged to stay.
  • Most shelters have shared kitchens, common areas, and bathrooms.
  • If you have children, you will probably all share one bedroom.
  • If you are alone, you may have to share a room.
  • 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.
  • 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 are generally not allowed.
  • Some shelters have computers you can use to check your email and access online resources.
  • Some shelters offer free cell phones for 911 calls only.

What to expect if you call a legal advocate

When you talk to a legal advocate, you can expect that:

  • Services are offered free of charge.
  • Legal advocates are not attorneys and will be unable to give legal advice.
  • Advocates can offer a range of services that might include:
    • Accompanying you to court
    • Helping you fill out paperwork
    • Helping you understand the civil or criminal process
    • Outlining or prioritizing the legal options that are available
    • Informing you about what actually goes on in court
    • Preparing you for a hearing or trial, and giving support before, during, and after
    • Referring you to low or no-cost lawyers