Women’s Aid Service, Inc. provides free assistance, counseling, and support to survivors, their children, family, and friends. We believe that safety begins at home, and we support survivors through their transition into violence-free living.
Call our 24-hour Help Line at (844) 349 – 6177.
No payment is required for any of our services.
- 24-hour help line
- Safety planning
- Emergency shelter
- Legal advocacy
- Prevention education
- Sexual assault services
If you are in immediate danger, call 911.
Women’s Aid Service provides a crisis line 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. A trained advocate is available at any time to provide empathy, support, guidance, safety planning, referrals, resources, and assistance to those in need of domestic violence or sexual assault services. While assisting families in crisis, we are dedicated to establishing a supportive and respectful professional relationship. This includes understanding that our services are confidential.
For crisis intervention assistance, please call our 24 hour toll free help line:
If you are still in the relationship:
- Brainstorm a safe place to go if an argument begins. Avoid rooms with no exits (bathroom), or rooms with weapons (kitchen).
- Make a list of safe people to contact.
- Keep change with you at all times.
- Establish a “code word” or “sign” so that family, friends, teachers, or co-workers know when to call for help.
- If you have been isolated from friends and family, and are without a support group, be sure to memorize the crisis line to your local domestic violence shelter.
- Memorize other important numbers.
- Think about what you will say to your partner if he / she becomes violent.
At Women’s Aid, please remember that we are here to safety plan with you regardless of where you are at in your relationship. We understand how difficult leaving can be. We believe that all people have the right to live without fear and violence, and if you do choose to take that first step, we are here with you.
If you have left the relationship:
- Take all important papers and documents with you. This enables you to apply for benefits or take legal action, should you choose to do so. If possible, take your state ID or driver’s license, birth certificates and social security cards for you and your children, leases or deeds in your name or both yours and your partners names, your checkbook, your charge cards, bank statements and charge account statements, insurance policies, proof of income (pay stubs or W-2’s), and any documentation of past abuse (photos, police reports, medical records, etc.)
- Change your phone number.
- Screen calls.
- Save and document all contacts, messages, injuries, or other injuries involving the partner/spouse you have left.
- If your abuser is the one leaving, change your locks if he/she has a key.
- Avoid staying alone.
- Plan how to get away if confronted by an abusive partner.
- If you do need to meet your partner, do it in a public place.
- Vary your routine.
- Notify school and work contacts what is going on.
- Call your local domestic violence shelter.
Safety planning with children
- Planning for violence in the home
- If violence is escalating, avoid running to the children because your partner may hurt them as well.
- Teach your children when and how to call 911.
- Instruct them to leave the home if possible when things begin to escalate, and where they can go. (Try coming up with a code word that you can say when they need to leave the home in case of an emergency – make sure that they know not to tell others what the secret word means.
- In the house: Identify a room they can go to when they’re afraid and something they can think about when they’re scared.
- Instruct them to stay out of the kitchen, bathroom, or other areas where there are items that could become weapons.
- Teach them that although they may love you and want to protect you, they should never intervene.
- Sit down with them, and help them make a list of people they are comfortable talking and expressing themselves to.
- Enroll them in a counseling program.
- Planning for unsupervised visits
- Brainstorm with your children (if they are old enough) to come up with ways they can stay safe. Have them identify where they can get to a phone, how they can leave the house, and who they can go to.
- If it’s safe to do, send a cell phone with the children to be used in emergency situations. This can be used to call a neighbor, you, or 911 if they need aid or feel unsafe.
- Planning for safe custody exchanges
- Avoid exchanging custody at your home or your partner’s home. Meet in a safe, public place such as a restaurant, a bank/other area with lots of cameras, or even near a police station.
- Bring a friend or relative with you to the exchanges, or have them make the exchange.
- Perhaps plan to have your partner pick the children up from school at the end of the day after you drop them off in the morning – this eliminates the chances of seeing each other.
- Emotional safety plan as well! Before the exchange, explore ways to calm any nerves you’re feeling. After the exchange, find ways to focus on yourself or the kids, such as going to a park or doing a fun activity.
- Planning for after you leave
- Alert anyone you can about the situation: counselors, school receptionist, teachers and principal, sports instructors, and other caretakers.
- Talk to these people about the situation. (For example, if you have a PPO or restraining order, be sure people know who is allowed to pick them up).
- How to have these conversations
- Let your child know that this is not their fault.
- Provide love, support, and positive reinforcement.
- Tell them that you want to protect them and keep everyone safe, so you have come up with a plan to use in case of emergencies.
- It’s important to remember that when you’re safety planning with a child, they may tell this information to the abusive partner, which could make the situation more dangerous. When talking about these plans with your child, use phrases such as, “We’re practicing what to do in an emergency,” instead of, “We’re planning what you can do when dad/mom becomes violent.”
If you have any questions about safety planning or want an advocate’s help in developing a personalized safety plan for you or your children, give us a call! We can help plan over the phone, or, if needed, we can set up a time to meet with you.
Women’s Aid Service provides emergency shelter services for victims of domestic violence and their children in Clare, Gratiot, and Isabella counties. Our shelter is a safe and supportive environment where clients can receive counseling, group work, and guidance in reaching their goals. Through empowerment and encouragement, our advocates work shoulder-to-shoulder with clients, providing survivors with resources to function emotionally, economically, and safely within the community once they have exited. This may include advocacy on their behalf, community referrals and transportation when appropriate.
Women’s Aid Service staff is available 24 hours a day to provide assistance.
Domestic violence counseling
Many victims of domestic violence are not seeking shelter or emergency services, and our outreach counseling program is designed to meet their needs. This program may include home visits, advocacy, and transportation to case-related appointments. The counseling goal is violence free-living. Anyone in Clare, Gratiot, and Isabella county who is an, or has been in, an abusive relationship is eligible for this free service.
Individual counseling is available by appointment for survivors of domestic violence or sexual assault. To schedule an appointment, please call our Isabella office at (989) 773-0078.
Group counseling is also available. Women’s Aid Service holds weekly domestic violence support groups in Isabella, Clare, and Gratiot counties. Members are women who are currently in or have been in unhealthy relationships. The groups incorporate the following topics: naming the abuse, learning the cycle of abuse, issues related to building self-esteem, learning assertiveness skills, and exploring issues related to forming new non-abusive relationships.
Isabella County in Mt. Pleasant office – Monday 2:00pm-3:00pm
Clare County in Harrison office – Tuesday 1:00pm-2:00pm
Gratiot County in Alma office – Thursday 1:00pm-2:00pm
Women’s Aid Service has a children’s counselor that meets with children, parents, and families dealing with domestic violence or sexual assault. To schedule an appointment, call an office in any of the three counties.
Sexual assault counseling
Our sexual assault counselor is available for individual counseling by appointment. To schedule an appointment, please call our Gratiot office at (989) 463-6324.
Women’s Aid Service also holds weekly groups focused on sexual assault. This group focuses on the special issues involved in being an adult survivor of child sexual abuse or adult sexual abuse. Groups are held in Gratiot County.
Gratiot County in Alma office – Wednesday 7:00pm – 9:00pm
If you are wanting to talk, ask questions, or explore options before meeting with one of our counselors or without seeking counseling services, please remember that you can call our help line 24/7. Our trained advocates are available to assist you.
Women’s Aid Service employs two Legal Advocates. For legal advocacy assistance in Clare county, contact our Harrison office at (989) 539-5895; Isabella county, contact our Mt. Pleasant office at (989) 773-0078; Gratiot county, contact our Alma office at (989) 463-6324.
Our Legal Advocacy program provides free court assistance and resources to survivors and domestic violence and sexual assault. Our Legal Advocates help survivors with personal protection orders (PPOs), court accompaniment, Legal Aid referrals, advocacy, and support services.
Our prevention educator is available to provide presentations to high schools, college classrooms, working professionals, law enforcement agencies, and other groups in the community. The presentations vary, and they cover a variety of topics – understanding domestic violence and the cycle of abuse, signs of domestic violence, teen dating violence, sexual assault prevention, rape culture, gender roles and suggestions on ways to support survivors. To inquire about booking a presentation, please contact the Isabella office at (989) 773-0078.
Persons who have experienced sexual assault may have long-term special needs related to this abuse. To meet these needs, we have developed a sexual assault program to provide immediate crisis intervention for rape victims. Our crisis intervention services are handled by staff and volunteers specifically trained in the dynamics of sexual abuse.
Individual counseling and support services are available to victims who have been sexually assaulted in their childhood or as an adult. Support is also available for significant others of victims. Other services include advocacy for clients in the legal and medical systems, weekly support group for adult survivors of child or adult sexual abuse, and community education.