Road Rules for Travel with a Volunteer Driver
Our volunteers are good hearted people who care about you and want to help you get to safety. They are not professional drivers and not taxi drivers. They have passed a criminal background check and a driving background check so you can get a safe ride with peace of mind. When you get a moment during your trip, give thanks for their service! Your driver may not be prepared to stop for a meal for a trip going to emergency shelter.
Seat Belts Are Required
Whether you are seated in the front or the back of the vehicle you and any children going with you must be buckled up at all times during travel. Not only is it the law but it’s also a good practice for safety in the event of an unexpected stop. Your driver has been instructed to make sure everyone is buckled and to stop if a traveler is not properly secured.
Domestic violence shelters can be a wonderful resource for survivors who need counseling, long-term safety planning, transitional housing, legal guidance, and immediate safety from an abuser. Your shelter may be like a large home or like a business building converted to a shelter. Most shelters have a large community kitchen, a shared laundry room, a place for children to play and security around the property. Your driver is not prepared to stop for a meal for this short trip. Unlike general population homeless shelters, your domestic violence shelter will allow you to keep your items there during the day and will welcome you back every day until your time there has ended. While shelters are all different, all have rules that their shelter clients must follow in order to stay or continue receiving benefits. During your intake meeting at the shelter, they will go over the shelter rules.
In the event you are kicked out from your shelter due to a rule violation, Families to Freedom may not provide transportation to relocate you to another shelter. Transportation to a DFW or Houston domestic violence shelter that originates within the metro may be honored multiple times over your life long journey towards long-term freedom from abuse. Each arrival needs to be for the purpose of entering that shelter’s program as a new resident. Rides to shelters located outside of the metro area are more limited in how often we can accommodate requests per year.
Multi-State Travel Accommodations
Families to Freedom is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization supported by community members who care about helping you. Through their donations, we are able to pay for the vehicle, the fuel, meals, and for extra long trips overnight motel stays. To keep your trip affordable, your driver has enough funds to spend up to $15/person per meal for trips longer than four hours. Gas station snacks and drinks are not included in this budget. If staying in a hotel, your driver will get her or his own own room and make arrangements with you for departing the next morning.
No Hitting Zone
When you yell or hit your children you are repeating what your abuser may have done to you. This reinforces those bad behaviors and teaches children that violence, yelling, and manipulation are tools to deal with conflict and disagreement. Right now your children may feel hurt, confused, sad, or even relieved to be moving on towards change. Some children may even believe that they are somehow responsible for what happened. During this time of transition, it is important to show love, patience, respect and security that they will not be hurt by you. Your children will remember how you cared for them even as you struggled through a very stressful time. This is a very powerful lesson. Love on them as you love on yourself.
Your Words Have Power
You can be a voice of inspiration to others! When you’re ready, your story of recovery could inspire others around you to find their own strength, and to care about the issues of domestic violence. Take a moment to share your thoughts on our handout if you’d like. Your story could be the one that helps another find her own inner strength, or inspire someone to financially support help for future survivors.
Not everyone has the advantage of fleeing a relationship with a phone. Consider these safety tips:
- Some phones may have a tracking app alerting an abusive partner to your whereabouts. If your phone was ever monitored or was ever in the control of an abusive partner, it’s safer to turn off the phone completely to stop and prevent any tracking.
- Engaging in social media from a phone can provide clues to your partner about what you’re doing and where you are. We discourage the use of social media during travel.
- Friends and family may talk to others about your travel plans. Make sure they know to keep your situation quiet, or simply don’t disclose all the details to them.
One-Time One-Way Service
Families to Freedom offers free long-distance transportation to help you get to freedom from an abusive partner. By now, you should have been informed that your trip is one-time and one-way. The number one reason for this policy is that Families to Freedom does not support survivors returning to abusive partners. There’s also the cost of travel that prevents us from granting multiple long trips.
One-Time means we will transport you this one time to your long-distance destination. We want to encourage you to be free from this trip onward! Requests to travel long-distance to another family home a second time will likely be denied.
One-Way means delivery to a destination does not include return transportation or further relocation. Court orders to return or dissatisfaction with your destination will be your responsibility to handle. Local resources may be available to assist you.
In the event your receiving family or friend is unexpectedly unable to accept you, or is not home upon arrival, your driver will take you to a homeless shelter or police station.
Smoking in our vehicles is not allowed. Roadside breaks are the opportune time to smoke. Keep in mind that even if you only smoke outside, secondhand smoke clings to clothing and skin. We encourage you to be mindful of wind direction and to wash hands afterwards to avoid sharing that not-so-awesome smoke smell with others.
For overnight stays on long multi-state trips, Families to Freedom covers the cost of a budget priced hotel room. By default we choose non-smoking rooms. If you need a smoking room for your overnight stay, request that of your driver or ask the front desk clerk if you can choose that type of room. Smoking in a non-smoking room costs Families to Freedom hundreds of dollars in cleaning fees, bans us from being allowed back to that hotel, and discourages that hotel from helping future victims in need. Any client who smokes in a non-smoking room, causes property damage, or exhibits behavior that results in you and the driver being required to leave the property will result in an immediate end of travel services. The remainder of your travel will be your responsibility. Marijuana is not legal in all states nor legal on a federal level. Possessing drugs or any illegal paraphernalia during travel will result in immediate termination of travel services. The remainder of your travel will be your responsibility.
Client’s Departing Checklist
Leaving can be an ordeal full of last moment scrambling to find and pack things. Often there’s a timing that a driver is planning on that can’t accommodate turning back for a forgotten item. Urgently needed forgotten items will be mailed to your destination address instead of going back. The checklist below may help you think through common items travelers leave behind:
- Cell Phone
- iPads/Game devices
- Jewelry or Makeup
- Diaper bag
- Kids Special Toy
Provisions for each trip vary. Fuel Assistance, bus riders, and commercial flight clients may not receive the same accommodations made for road trip clients due to the nature of travel and costs. For specific details about upcoming travel or for more informaton about any of the rules outlined above, call us at 833-903-7233 during normal business hours.