The Need for More Shelters

One common way that abuser try to control their partners is to limit their contact with friends and family; effectively isolating them for total control.  This becomes a problem if and when the victims make the decision to leave.  Without friends and family to turn to, victims of domestic violence are often left with no place to go to, thus they turn to shelters.

History of Shelters

The first domestic violence shelter opened in England in the early 1970s.  Since the 1970s, shelters have become commonplace in

The Interior of a Shelter

The Interior of a Shelter

large cities.  In the United States, shelters did not proliferate until the mid-1990s when “the U.S. government took an active role in promoting the shelter movement when it passed the first Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) (Barnett, 3rd Ed.).  VAWA “provided funding for shelters and established the National Domestic Violence Hotline” (Barnett, 3rd Ed.).

Expanding Shelters

“Some observers have argued that although implementing VAWA provisions has been expensive, it may have saved U.S. taxpayers billions of dollars in medical costs and social services” (Clark, Biddle, & Martin, 2002).  However, state and government funding of domestic violence shelters has recently been cut.  This leads to many women and children being turned away from shelters in times of emergency and perhaps returning to their batterers, thus perpetuating the cycle of violence for that family.

To get an idea of the need that many states are dealing with, here are some statistics from the state of Missouri:

  • In 2010, 10,708 people received safe shelter while 19,311 were turned away.  For every single person that was able to find a place at a shelter in Missouri, two people were turned away from a shelter because it was too full.
  • There is an immediate need for either the expansion of existing shelters or the creation of new shelters to accommodate the growing need for emergency space.  The following statistics, taken over three years illustrate the growing need for more shelter space:
    • 2008: 9,151 people were turned away from shelters because of lack of space.

      Increasing Demand for Shelters

      Increasing Demand for Shelters

    • 2009: 15,106 people were turned away from shelters because of        lack of space.
    • 2010: 19,311 people were turned away from shelters because of        lack of space.
    • “50% of homelessness among women and children is due to domestic violence”

The shelters across the country do more than provide a bed for people to sleep in when in crisis; shelters offer many different services, such as

  • Assisting individuals with orders of protection against their abusers
  • Provided Crisis Intervention Services
  • Provided Case Management Services
  • Support Groups
  • Individual Therapy
  • Life Skill Groups
  • Batterer Intervention Groups
  • Community Awareness Activities

When asked, 93% of those aided by domestic violence programs said it enhanced their safety and knowledge of community resources.

Cutting funding will decrease the availability of aids and services to abused women and men.

Supportive Shelter Art

Supportive Shelter Art

Cuts will also cost taxpayers millions of dollars in social services and medical costs.  Therefore, increasing funding will not only help decrease the amount of women and children turned away from shelters, it will decrease overall costs to society.


Missouri Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence.  2010 Services: Domestic Violence Statistics.


Duluth Model for Preventing Further Violence

Domestic violence has long been a “private” or “family” problem; however, it has only recently become identified as a social problem and a public health problem.  Beginning in the 1970s, domestic violence shelters and support systems started springing up across the United States.  These shelters were in response to the vast number of women leaving violent relationships.

Murdered by intimate partners

Murdered by intimate partner

Although domestic violence relationships are not exclusively men abusing women, the vast majority of people who abuse are men.  This is an important for prevention of domestic violence.  By educating men about abuse, many of the instances of domestic violence will disappear.  The Duluth Model does just that.

The Duluth Model started out as DAIP (Domestic Abuse Intervention Programs) in Duluth, Minnesota.  Since 1980, it has been used to reform abusers that enter the criminal justice system.  “The results were strikingly effective in keeping batterers from continuing their abuse.”

Equality Wheel verses Power and Control Wheel

Equality Wheel verses Power and Control Wheel

The program has ten themes that hold the batterer accountable for his actions:

            • Non-Violence
            • Non-Threatening Behavior
            • Respect
            • Trust and Support
            • Honesty and Accountability
            • Sexual Respect
            • Shared Responsibility
            • Economic Partnership
            • Responsible Parenting
            • Negotiation and Fairness

A total of three weeks is spent on each theme.  The aim is to end violence against women through identifying that the power and control wheel is wrong and acceptance of the equality wheel.

Week One: Defining the theme, introspectively looking for examples in each man’s past intimate relationship, and discussing each man’s reaction.

Week Two: Watching and discussing a short vignette that gives a visual example of each anti-theme (how the men are being abusive).

Week Three: Practicing the healthy behaviors (themes).

Each theme is meant to show the men that their behavior is abusive. Moreover, discussions on each theme play into each man’s perception of his own behavior and how he can change it.  The program’s length is purposeful because it is what most men need to go through the stages of change.

Stages of Change

The Stages of Change is an important concept for behavior change.   There are five stages in the Stages of Change model:

Stages of Change Model

Stages of Change Model

  1. Pre-contemplation is where a person has no intention to change their behavior in the foreseeable future.
  2. Contemplation is where a person is aware that there is a problem in their life and they are thinking about ways to overcome this problem, but they have yet to take action to change.
  3. Preparation is the stage where people are intending to solve their problem within the next month.
  4. Action is where a person is actively modifying their behaviors, actions and environments to overcome their problem.
  5. Maintenance is the stage where people actively work to prevent relapse.  There is some dispute as to whether or not maintenance should be included in the stages of change model.

The Duluth Model works to help each participant get to the action stage, where they are making changes in their behaviors (such as breathing exercises to control their anger) and/or their environment (avoiding alcohol).