Example Of The Importance Of Domestic Violence Shelter Programs Thesis
The first women’s violence shelter, Haven House, opened in 1964, in direct response to a rising public demand for better protection for women who were victims of domestic violence. Today, there are a variety of domestic violence shelter programs across the united states that are instrumental in helping battered men, women, and children overcome the physical and psychological effects of battering. Our local program is no exception.
The New Steps Domestic Violence Shelter and Recovery Program is designed to help victims of domestic assault who are prepared to make major decisions about their future, in order to escape violent and dangerous domestic situations, make a plan for the future, and take steps toward reaching their goals. One of the most prominent reasons women give for staying with their abuser is the fear of homelessness, and first and foremost, the shelter provides a place for women to go when they make the decision to leave (Betar, 2013).
Anne Menard, the executive director of the National Resource Center on Domestic Violence, and a great supporter of our program, described the decisions that women are forced to make when leaving their abuser like this:
It's important to realize how complex their choices are. Abusers often isolate their partners, so many people may not have the social support network that we take for granted. This can create a vicious cycle (Betar, 2013).
The decisions that every battered woman has to make when seeking her independence include: whether or not to pursue legal action, including seeking an order of protection, and pressing criminal assault charges, where to live long term, and other decisions about personal care, and financial stability. A woman may have escaped the domestic abuse with her career intact, but in many cases, a woman has become severely financially dependent on her spouse, and has to decide whether to find employment, or enter a job training program or college of some kind (Smith M. & Segal J., 2014).. Women with children will need to decide what kind of visitation or custody arrangements are in their best interest, where to send them to school after abandoning their home, and potentially their school district, and other similar parenting matters (Smith M. & Segal J., 2014). In short, the decision to abandon your home and leave your abusive and controlling domestic partner is an emotional one, and creates a ripple effect that reaches out into every facet of a victim’s life (Smith M. & Segal J., 2014).
Our program helps a woman make these decisions, and create a plan for her future by attacking the issues on two fronts. First, we work to ensure that the woman is getting the physical and mental healthcare she needs to get “well.” Often abuse leaves severe emotional scars even after the physical wounds have healed, and the only effective way to help a woman truly escape the relationship is to provide her with the therapy she needs to put those demons to rest (Minnesota Advocate for Human Rights, 2003).
Secondly, we work to help the woman see her goals through. First and foremost, we help her develop a safety plan, to ensure that she knows how to protect herself in the event of a violent attack, and to reduce the risk of her allowing the violence to escalate should there be any future conflict (Minnesota Advocate for Human Rights, 2003). We then provide childcare, so that she does not have to worry about where her children are while she follows up with legal counsel, looks for work, and otherwise goes about the business of getting back on her feet. Finally, the program offers an abundance of resources to help women prepare for job interviews, seek the right educational opportunities, and generally begin planning and working toward whatever goals they have set for the next stage of their life.
The benefits of the having the New Steps Domestic Violence Shelter and Recovery Program in our community cannot be underestimated. The most obvious benefit is providing a place for battered individuals to go to immediately get physical support, medical attention, and a secure place to reside. Up to 13% of the nation’s homeless are women and children fleeing from serious cases of domestic abuse (Betar, 2013). Shelter’s give them an immediate place to go, and may reduce the risk of women staying in dangerous relationships simply because they have not place to go.
Furthermore, studies consistently show that women who are sheltered by Domestic Violence Programs, rather than simply half-way houses or homeless shelters have far better outcomes. The longer they reside at the program’s residence, the better their long-term outlook for success (DVIP, 2012). A woman who remains in the shelter until she has reached the goals she set for herself at the beginning of the program maintains a greater level of independence after leaving the shelter, increased self-esteem, reduced dependence on anti-depressants, decreased risk of repeat victimization, and greater long-term job satisfaction (DVIP, 2012). This is likely because those that stay in the program for more than 6 months are more established, both personally and professionally, and better equipped, through counseling, medical care, and education, to take on the challenges of life.
Finally, the benefit of having a shelter within our own community is the assurance that local women are getting the support they need. Evidence shows that women who are more than 40 miles from the nearest shelter are exponentially more likely to remain in an abusive relationship out of fear (DVIP, 2012). Continued funding of the local shelter program ensures that proximity is not a barrier for our community’s women and children.
Our shelter provides more than a safe place to stay for the night. It offers a safe haven to those most in need. It offers a home that is both physically and emotionally supportive to the unique needs of a woman who has just abandoned everything she knows in the search for security, safety, and perhaps her own identity. Studies have proven the need for an increased number of shelters across the nation in order to increase abuse reporting and decrease the re-victimization of abuse survivors. Our program provides an invaluable service to battered men, women, and children, who need safety and support in order to begin anew.
Betar, T. (2013, January 25). As domestic violence forces women, children into homelessness, shelters work to help. Retrieved from http://www.deseretnews.com/article/865571540/As-domestic-violence-forces-women-children-into-homelessness-shelters-work-to-help.html?pg=all
DVIP. (2012, October 20). Research on the benefits of shelters. Retrieved from http://www.dvipiowa.org/the-benefits-of-shelters/
Minnesota Advocates for Human Rights. (2003, January 1). SVAW - domestic violence: explore the issue. Retrieved from http://www1.umn.edu/humanrts/svaw/domestic/explore/6support.htm
Smith, M., & Segal, J. (2014, December 1). Help for abused and battered women. Retrieved from http://www.helpguide.org/articles/abuse/help-for-abused-and-battered-women.htm
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