Living in Shelter
For a general idea of what to expect at an emergency domestic violence shelter you may find the New Hampshire Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence’s page on What to Expect in Shelter helpful.
Who Can Seek Shelter at New Beginnings?
New Beginnings is an emergency shelter for single women and women with children, fleeing intimate partner violence. (New Beginnings works with survivors regardless of gender identity, and will help anyone fleeing domestic, sexual, and stalking violence find a safe place to go). No one can move into the shelter without taking part in an extensive intake process to ensure New Beginnings is the best, safest option for you/your family and everyone else currently residing at the shelter. We are not a transitional housing program, and can only accept victims/survivors of domestic, sexual, and stalking violence; we are not a homeless shelter.
What are “The Rules”?
Every domestic violence shelter is different. That being said, generally domestic violence shelters are very different than the typical homeless shelter. Shelters for fleeing victims take into account the acute and long-term effects of trauma on the individual.
It is important to understand, fleeing to a domestic violence shelter means living communally, with women who all have individual stories, and are experiencing different effects of trauma. New Beginnings asks that guests be respectful of other guests’ personal boundaries, and understanding that not everyone is at the same place in their healing. We ask guests in shelter to sort out house issues cooperatively, and accomplish house responsibilities on their own, with staff involvement only as necessary. It is expected that all individuals are responsible for their own children and personal living space.
Everyone should be working on goals, obtaining more permanent housing and re-establishing healthy, safe lives free from abuse. New Beginnings does not provide child-care. Therefore, if one of your goals is to obtain employment, finding affordable childcare and/or setting up school for school aged children is critical.
There are four main expectations while staying at New Beginnings that if violated, can result in being asked to leave:
- No contact with the abusive partner (unless court mandated to co-parent).
- No drug or alcohol use on-site.
- No violence (including use of violent video games, TV programming, etc. as it may be triggering to other guests).
- Adherence to a nightly curfew (being in house between 10pm and 6am) unless arrangements are made with staff.
What is the Living Space Like?
We are located in Laconia, NH, which is not “the big city”. Without personal transportation, walking is the main means of transport. The nearest grocery store is about one mile away.
Our shelter is not a confidential location from the public, for this reason it may not be a safe emergency housing option for all victims/survivors. If your abuser is likely to look for you/seek you out, it is not only a safety risk to you, but the other guests in shelter.
Our doors are protected by a pass-code security system. We have security cameras, hard-wired panic buttons, and alarms providing extra security. We are next door to the fire department, who knows to watch for suspicious activity in the area. Laconia Police conducts frequent drive-bys and checks around the outside of the building.
Each family/single woman is provided a private bed-room, and bathroom when possible. The kitchen, living room, dining area, children’s room, and laundry are communal spaces shared with the other shelter guests. We have a back yard with a swing-set, vegetable garden, and Namaste Meditation Garden.
Our office is connected to the shelter, and we see clients (including shelter guests) there daily.
Deciding to leave an abusive partner is a difficult decision, and often a very scary one. New Beginnings advocates recognize that leaving is one of the most dangerous times for victims. Advocates are available to help you safety plan around leaving and make arrangements to get you safely to our shelter.
Often taking time to collect many items could further place you in danger. You should try to have all your essential documents (ID, work permit, social security card, insurance cards, EBT card, etc), money (if you have access), medications, and a few changes of clothes.
New Beginnings will work with you to get you on your feet after you flee. This may include:
- Arranging a civil standby with your local police department so you can safely gather some more of your things
- New Beginnings provides each guest with bed linens, towels, and starter toiletries (soap, shampoo, toothbrushes, deodorant, razors, etc.)
- New Beginnings may supply basic food items from our emergency food pantry
- New Beginnings may supply emergency material goods available to help start guests off after they first arrive at shelter
Guests need to have a plan to sustain themselves/their family after they flee; this could include finding new employment, applying for benefits (food stamps, SSDI), returning to work, etc. New Beginnings does not provide food, or material goods to sustain you after your initial flight to shelter. We cannot accommodate large items in the shelter, and have limited storage space available to guests; storage should be arranged off site after the initial flight/crisis has subsided.