Shelter Myths Debunked: What It’s Really Like to Stay at Safe Shelter

Survivors who are contemplating leaving their abusers are understandably overwhelmed by the unknowns of the future. One of the most overwhelming things can be finding new housing, even if just temporary housing in a shelter for survivors of domestic violence.

Shelters are poorly portrayed in the media, so most people don’t have a realistic idea of what it’s actually like to stay in a shelter for survivors. And because it’s so important to keep our shelter location a secret so our clients and staff are protected, no one knows what the shelter looks like or what to expect from the shelter atmosphere.

To ease your fears, we’re debunking 6 common myths about staying in a shelter and providing a clearer explanation of what you can expect from staying at Safe Shelter. For anyone considering reaching out about Safe Shelter availability, we hope this information will ease your fears and provide you with the confidence you need to take the next step in leaving your abuser.

The 6 most common myths we hear from those who have never stayed in a shelter are:

  1. Shelters have no privacy
  2. Shelters don’t accept pets
  3. It will look bad if I bring my children to a shelter
  4. My abuse isn’t severe enough
  5. Shelters are connected to CPS, law enforcement, etc.
  6. I’m not female, so the shelter won’t accept me

Below, we’ll share why these are just myths and explain what you can actually expect when you stay at Safe Shelter.

Myth 1: Shelters Have No Privacy

The number one myth we hear about shelters is that shelters have no privacy and are like big open dorms. Although we can’t speak for all shelters, Safe Shelter isn’t built like a dorm. In fact, Safe Shelter was custom built for us and thoughtfully designed to try and create the most welcome and comfortable environment.

Our shelter keeps families together in their own rooms, so you’ll never be separated from your kids. If it’ll just be you staying at Safe Shelter, you may share a room with other single folks. Prior to COVID-19, a single person might have expected to share a room with one or two other singles, but usually never more than that. Depending on COVID-19 protocols at a given time, that number may be fewer.

Our common areas do provide a space for residents to socialize and eat together. All our spaces are kept clean and are well-maintained. We’re lucky to live in a community where we have access to nice furniture, kitchen appliances, and kitchen tools for everyone to use. For meals, we all have the opportunity if we so choose to take turns cooking a community dinner for the entire house.

Myth 2: Shelters Don’t Accept Pets

Not all shelters accept pets, but Safe Shelter does! Our shelter is pet-friendly and we accept all pets as long as we have the capacity, including cats, dogs, small animals, and more. We know that one of the hardest things about leaving your abuser is the possibility of leaving a pet behind. And if you fear your pet may be in danger, you may not be able to leave at all.

We’ve endeavored to remove that barrier to leaving by always allowing pets at Safe Shelter. Plus, we think pets at Safe Shelter contribute to a more fun and welcoming environment for everyone. So by all means, reach out to us to see if we have room for your furry (or scaly, or feathery) family member! We’d love to welcome you both. And if we don’t have the capacity for your pet, we can connect you with other options to arrange for boarding if necessary.

Myth 3: It Will Look Bad If I Bring My Children to a Shelter

Many people worry about how their family, friends, or abusers will react if they bring their children to stay in a shelter. In fact, some victims fear that their abuser will contact CPS or use their shelter stay against them in court. For example, some fears we’ve heard include the idea that the abuser will tell the court that the victim has taken their kids to an unsafe or dirty shelter.

We want to ease those fears by reassuring you that our shelter is a safe, welcoming, and clean place for both adults and children. We provide services for children of all ages as well as access to resources for children through the St. Vrain Valley school district and other community agencies.

We know that children are particularly vulnerable to both domestic violence situations and to changes in their routine. However your child is responding to their circumstances, we provide support, resources, and creative activities to help children work through trauma, develop self-esteem, experience normalcy, and heal from abusive situations.

Myth 4: My Abuse Isn’t Severe Enough

Some people think they don’t belong at Safe Shelter because they believe their abuse isn’t severe enough. This is especially common for people who aren’t experiencing physical violence from their abuser. But the truth is, emotional, psychological, financial, and sexual abuse are all very serious.

At Safe Shelter, we provide a safe place for anyone needing to flee these situations for the safety of themselves, their children, and/or their pets. If you’re experiencing abuse that makes you or your loved ones unsafe, you are eligible for a space at Safe Shelter.

5. Shelters Are Connected to CPS, Law Enforcement, Etc.

While we are mandated reporters, Safe Shelter is in no way part of the justice system or other institutions such as Child Protective Services (CPS). All interactions with us are completely confidential and we will never share details of your situation. We can provide support as you navigate these systems, but we are not extensions of the police or legal system.

6. I’m Not Female, So the Shelter Won’t Accept Me

Contrary to popular belief, Safe Shelter is not just a women’s shelter. Safe Shelter space is available to all individuals who are experiencing domestic violence, human trafficking, or elder abuse. We do not discriminate against cultural, ethnic, economic, language, or disability factors and we welcome anyone who identifies as male, female, or gender non-conforming.

Learn More About Staying at Safe Shelter by Giving Us a Call

At Safe Shelter, we are here to serve you or your loved ones who are experiencing domestic violence. If you or someone you know needs help, do not hesitate to get in contact with us. We would love to hear from you and answer your questions about what it’s like to stay at Safe Shelter.

You can call our office during business hours at 303-772-0432, our 24-hour crisis line at 303-772-4422, or click here to fill out our online question form at any time. All services are available in English and Spanish.