You’re a mom in a tough situation. You have come to a point of fight or flight. You make the courageous decision to leave the abusive relationship and move you and your child(ren) to a Domestic Violence Shelter. After safely leaving, and having an arrangement with a domestic violence shelter, you and your child(ren) begin to settle into your new home for the next few months.
After the whirlwind is over and your mind begins to calm, you start to become increasingly concerned with how your child is going to be effected by all of this. You wonder to yourself, “Am I doing enough to comfort them? Have I told them I love them? Am I giving them enough attention?”
Children are extremely resilient and built tough…to an extent. It is important to show them you love them. Even just sitting down to read a book for 15 minutes with your child(ren) will help them feel loved. Your child has just left everything they’ve known, possibly witnessed the abuse and has to readjust to an entirely new way of living.
Children thrive on routine, so that is a great place to start. Incorporate simple routines throughout the day so that your child will find comfort in knowing that (s)he can know what to expect everyday. There are many things you can do but a few examples are: making the bed together each morning, brushing your teeth together, watching a favorite show, doing chores together. You and your child(ren) will be in very close proximities to each other over your time in the shelter, so that gives you an opportunity to do more things together.
Talking to your child is important in finding out how they are coping. You can find a time where you both are doing something together (drawing or coloring is a great time) and ask them their thoughts on everything. Reassure them on how brave they are because a lot of scary things just happened in their life. The shelters will provide therapists. Seeing a therapist should be on the top of your goal list. They will help you and your child mentally sort out the ordeal you just went through. They will give you tips on things to do and help you plan your steps to take, so that you can find you and your child(ren) a place to live.
Try to have a goal as to when you want to move out of the shelter. Being able to move you and your child(ren) out of the shelter and into your own home will help your children move past and grow from this situation. All shelters vary, but in general, it is a difficult place to live in simply because you crave the stability of your own space. Three to four months is a reasonable amount of time to plan an exit for you and your child(ren). Just remember, your child(ren) is craving stability as well.
Your child is watching and learning from you. Try and keep this in the forefront of your mind as you navigate life a the shelter. There are many rules to follow while living there and your child is learning how you follow the rules. If ever a tense situation arises with another resident, you child is learning from you how to handle it. Just try to pause every now and then to view things through your child’s eyes.