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Domestic Violence Shelters Meet Survivor's Needs

Domestic violence shelters are meeting the needs of abuse survivors and their children, providing services like housing, mental health counseling, and legal assistance.
Date Published
October 5, 2009

An NIJ-sponsored study[1] found that nearly three-quarters (74 percent) of domestic violence survivors rate the assistance they received at their shelters as "very helpful", and another 18 percent rate it as "helpful."

Benefits of Domestic Violence Shelters

Shelters provide specific, immediate benefits for adults and children who face abuse and homelessness:

  • Almost all survivors (99 percent) received help securing their own safety, 90 percent received help issuing a protective or restraining order, and 82 percent received help with divorce issues.
  • Most shelters (82 percent) let survivors stay more than 30 days, and 34 percent allow stays of more than 60 days.
  • Most shelters offered child protection (79 percent) and welfare (80 percent) services.
  • Most shelters offered survivors help prosecuting their abusers in civil (82 percent) and criminal (81 percent) court.

Survivors receive a range of services:

  • Three-quarters (75 percent) of survivors found employment or received job training.
  • Shelters offered many victim services, including: support groups (97 percent), crisis counseling (96 percent), individual counseling (92 percent), parenting classes (55 percent), counseling for children (54 percent) and child care (50 percent).
  • Almost all shelters (92 percent) helped victims find schools for their children.

Challenges and Areas for Improvement

  • Around a third (32 percent) of survivors had conflicts with other residents.
  • Survivors reported problems finding privacy (16 percent) and problems with time limits on the shelter stay (16 percent), curfews (14 percent), child discipline and monitoring (13 percent).

About This Article

The research described in this article was funded by NIJ award 2007-IJ-CX-K022, awarded to the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence. This article is based on the grantee report Meeting Survivor's Needs: A Multi-State Study of Domestic Violence Shelters (pdf, 146 pages).

[note 1] The content on this page comes from the report Meeting Survivor's Needs: A Multi-State Study of Domestic Violence Shelters (pdf, 146 pages), which reports findings of research conducted by Eleanor Lynn and Shannon Lane of the University of Connecticut's Institute for Violence Prevention and Reduction at the School of Social Work in collaboration with Anne Menard of the National Resource Center on Domestic Violence, a project of the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence. Researchers interviewed 3,410 residents of 215 domestic violence shelters in Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Michigan, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Washington. They collected data between October 2007 and March 2008.

National Institute of Justice, "Domestic Violence Shelters Meet Survivor's Needs," October 5, 2009, nij.ojp.gov:
Date Created: October 5, 2009