(WTNH) – A key part of stopping domestic violence is getting victims out of bad situations. For many, that means taking shelter at one of the domestic violence safe houses, which are scattered around the state in secret locations.

Demand for those spaces has never been greater and that has advocates getting creative to make sure shelter is there for those who need it.

News 8 got a rare peek inside a space in Connecticut that has changed countless lives. It’s a safe house for victims of domestic violence to get away from their abusers and start to put a new life together.

Mary-Jane Foster runs Interval House, which is the state’s largest domestic violence agency. Since the start of the pandemic, the number of people in crisis they are helping has shot up by 1,000 more a year. When their 25 safe house beds are full, they often put people in hotels.

“Pre-pandemic, I would say they were anywhere from $500 to $1,200 a month,” Foster said. “One month in 2020, we had $120,000 a month. It’s not sustainable, we can’t do it.

Lourdine Piere is the director of residential services at the Domestic Violence Crisis Center in Stamford. She says not only is demand for safe house space up, but people are staying longer.

Before the pandemic, the average safe house stay for a domestic violence victim was 19 days. Since the pandemic, that number has gone up to 57 days. The reason is due to the high cost of housing.

“Finding somewhere where they can afford and maintain going forward, it’s not always easy,” Piere said.

“I had children at the time,” said Marlene Harris. “I was afraid that I would not be able to make it on my own. I was told I wouldn’t be able to make it on my own.

Harris is a domestic abuse survivor. More than two decades ago, she and her kids went to a safe house. It’s a move she says changed her life forever.

“She told me she would hold my bed for 24 hours, for myself and my children, which she did,” Harris said. “And I left the following morning and never looked back.”

If you or someone you know is a victim of domestic violence, if you need information, or just someone to talk to, you can call the state CT Safe Connect hotline at 888-774-2900. You can also text or chat with that number at ctsafeconnect.com.