The Need for More SheltersPosted: March 20, 2012
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
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.).
“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.
- 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.
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.