This study of domestic violence shelters in eight States assessed the range of services provided, the needs and experiences of survivors who had turned to shelters for help, and the types of help they received.
The findings show that domestic violence shelters addressed compelling needs of survivors and their children that they could not find elsewhere. Shelters provided a complex array of services to victims and their children that included safety, information, help with children, and help with emotional distress. Most needs were met for most residents, and most problems were resolved. Implications of the findings for policy and programming are discussed. Topics addressed include expanding the diversity of shelter staff, expanding conflict-resolution training for staff, reconsideration of time limits and eligibility requirements for shelters that have these rules, and additional research on the full array of services (including nonshelter services) provided by domestic violence programs. Data were collected during a 6-month period from 3,410 residents of 215 domestic violence shelters (81 percent of the shelters in the 8 States). Programs provided information on their capacity (number of beds and staff) and the services they offered. Census data were collected on the region served by each shelter. Shelter residents completed a written survey at or near the time they entered the shelter and again at or near the time they left the shelter. All study materials were translated into 11 languages in order to increase accessibility to a multicultural population. Both entrance and exit surveys asked about 38 possible needs. The entrance survey also addressed initial impressions and concerns; and the exit survey also addressed immediate outcomes, difficulties experienced during the shelter stay, and the respect and support survivors had received from shelter staff. 27 tables and appended entrance and exit survey forms
Date Published: October 1, 2008