What are You Willing to Give Up to Stay Safe?


I love my job. I make decent money and am slowly saving up to be able to afford an apartment on my own. I’m good at what I do and I feel a sense of accomplishment when I do it well. My coworkers are my friends and they have been so supportive of me through everything I’ve been through.

There’s just one problem: my abusive ex-boyfriend knows where I work.

What do I do? Do I quit? Try to start over at a new job, making considerably less money, where I’ll be the new person learning the ropes? I’ve been there, done that. Worked hard to get to where I am at my current job. I already left my old apartment because he kept showing up, do I have to leave my job too? So much of my life feels out of control, but when I’m at work I know what I’m doing and how to solve the problems that come up. I already feel so alone – I can’t imagine starting over at a new place and having to be the new kid on the block, not knowing anyone and having to make new friends all over again. Maybe I should just take my chances…


I have a good life. I live in a decent house, with three beautiful children and a hyper but loveable rescue dog we adopted 6 years ago. I volunteer at my kids’ school, go to church on the weekends, and enjoy unwinding with a glass of wine at my book club with friends on Tuesday nights.

There’s just one problem: lately when we fight, my husband ends up hitting me.

What do I do? I’ve confided in my closest friends and they all tell me I should leave. “It’s getting worse.” “You have to get out, there are places that can help. Go to a shelter.” But I’ve called around looking for shelter space, just out of curiosity one day when I was feeling really down. They all said the same thing: we’re full, try back later. One place said they might have an opening and we talked a little bit about what would be involved. Did you know if I leave to go to shelter I can’t tell anyone where I live? I’d have to uproot my kids, I’m not even sure if I can take the dog with me. And who knows what kind of other people I’d be living in close proximity to. He’s the one who’s beating me, why should I have to leave? My church, my book club, volunteering at the school – what, do I leave that all behind? No, no I don’t think I’m that desperate. Yet…


I’m getting ready to leave shelter and move into subsidized housing. But I’m pretty sure my ex-boyfriend will be looking for me. The shelter advocates have been talking to me about options to keep him from finding me, including one through the state where they provide me with a mailing address and then forward my mail to me.

There’s just one problem: If I do this, I won’t have a real address.

What do I do? It may not sound like a big deal, but not having a real address means I can’t register to vote (at least not right away), can’t get packages delivered, can’t get a credit card…and anything else that you use your real address for in the course of your daily life. I’ve always been politically aware and exercising my right to vote is really important to me. It’s why my grandparents came to this country. I’ve given up a lot over the past few years to stay safe, but I don’t know if I’m ready to give that up.

From the outside looking in, it can be easy to judge survivors for what might seem like easy choices. But when it’s your job, your kids, your dog, your safety on the line, those choices get a lot more complex. These stories are just a few examples of what we call “tradeoffs.” Having to give up something in some area of your life – often something that gives you a sense of mastery or social connectedness – in order to stay physically safe. REACH advocates work with survivors to help navigate these and many other tradeoffs and to plan for safety. If you or someone you know needs help talking about choices like this, call our hotline at 1-800-899-4000.To support the work that REACH advocates do to help survivors, click here.

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