Domestic abuse victims pack bags, find nowhere to stay in Richmond

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RICHMOND, Va. -- Those who leave an abusive relationship often face different obstacles when they try to start a new life.

The first thing a person leaving an abusive relationship usually does is find a place to stay.

Right now in Central Virginia, there just aren't enough beds for victims of domestic violence and their children.

"My abuser brought us to Fayetteville, North Carolina, to try and get a house that he did not obtain, so we escaped yesterday morning at 5 a.m.,” a victim told us.

That escape involved two sisters and their eight young children. By Monday evening they were north bound, and arrived in Richmond at dusk.

When they began making dozens of phone calls to look for help, the victim said none could be found.

"There should be a place for women to go when you're fleeing from your husband and you know you're not going back, to be able to go somewhere safe,” she said.

There is a 24/7 staffed hotline staffed to call for help, but certain criteria has to be met in order for victims of domestic violence to get into a shelter.

The first criterion is that the victim and children have to be in imminent danger, and if not, other resources like homeless shelters will be suggested.

The agency asks questions like; "have they been threatened, have they been physically assaulted, and were guns involved."

"There are not enough beds in Central Virginia unfortunately,” said Cathy Easter, Executive Director Safe Harbor.

In Henrico County, Safe Harbor has fewer than 10 beds, which means the emergency shelter is often filled.

"We in our emergency shelter have eights beds,” said Easter. “We also as a backup, have a relationship with a local hotel, where we can house clients specifically from Henrico County in a hotel.”

The two sisters and their eight children have no place to stay tonight, because they are not considered to be in imminent danger and the homeless shelters are all full.

Cathy Easter said that donations to agencies that help victims of domestic violence are always welcome.

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