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Meeting Survivors' Needs: A Multi-State Study of Domestic Violence Shelter Experiences, Executive Summary

NCJ Number
Date Published
October 2008
19 pages
This is the executive summary of a multi-State study of domestic-violence shelters that describes the shelter experiences of survivors of domestic violence, documents the range of services provided, and distinguishes the shelter experiences for survivors with different demographic characteristics and from various geographic regions.
The study’s overall conclusion is that domestic violence shelters throughout the Nation serve a critical need for survivors, with many of the survivors describing their shelter experience as life-saving. The findings show that shelters provide a wide variety of educational, emotional, psychological, attitudinal, and practical benefits to residents. This includes changing survivor perceptions of the resources they need in order to live safer and more fulfilling lives. The services provided to residents as well as nonresidential clients have evolved to become comprehensive and multifaceted in an effort to respond to a broader array of needs and concerns. Regarding existing challenges for shelters, many survivors struggle with some shelter rules related to eligibility for admission, responsibilities while they are in residence, and how long they may stay in the shelter. Staff training in conflict resolution, although common in many programs, might be offered more often or on a wider basis. Some differences in needs by race/ethnicity were documented, and problems with lack of respect for cultural customs were not likely to be resolved. Efforts to expand staff diversity and create working environments supportive for all staff should be continued. Recommendations include an analysis of services related to substance abuse, using the Internet as a source of information about the shelter, and changing some of the shelter-related language to be more gender-neutral. Evaluations can be improved by addressing literacy, language, and cultural issues of survey respondents. The study sampled the experiences of 3,410 residents of 215 domestic-violence shelters in 8 States. 3 tables

Date Published: October 1, 2008