Thursday, August 20, 2009

Hurricane Season and Domestic Violence

Hurricane season has started already. A storm brews off the coast that may not make landfall. This is the best hoped for scenario. The very presence of a hurricane reminds us to plan for safe evacuation. Evacuating is a not a simple feat in the best of times. For those victims of domestic violence who are already in the worst of times hurricanes raise tensions.

But what about domestic violence victims who have to evacuate because of a hurricane? For them, there are no easy answers. Some are at the mercy of local resources and agencies. Others may have vehicles with limited capability for travel. Funding for victims of domestic violence in hurricanes is always in very short supply.

If you are a domestic violence victim in the path of a hurricane there are some things you can do.
The following list is reprinted by permission. For more information visit

1. Talk with your local shelter or domestic violence program before a storm hits. Find out if the program is doing anything differently and get their input.
2. Let your local agency help you create a safety plan.
3. Follow all usual safety precautions regarding a hurricane in your area. Stock up on food and water, keep tuned into local reports etc.
4. Get any court-certified copies of documents well in advance of a storm. Keep copies where you can easily get them.
5. If you have a hurricane shelter choice, think before you choose. Is your abuser or family going to be there? Do you feel you can be there safely? If not, ask your local domestic violence shelter for guidance.
6. Identify yourself to shelter staff as a domestic violence victim. When I worked at a Red Cross shelter we had arrangements that could be put in place if someone disclosed. Note: These plans were only activated if someone had come forward.
7. Be vigilant. Listen to your instincts. Use local resources as you feel safe.

For more information on domestic violence and hurricane preparedness visit these links:

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