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A Battered Woman's Shelter: Not what I expected
an article by Laura

Many women are exposed to violence in their relationships, yet until recently society has done very little to provide these women with the support and resources that they need to escape potentially dangerous situations. Many communities have responded to this crisis by starting shelters that provide not only a safe haven, but a network of social workers, psychologists, and volunteers that women can utilize.

I worked in one such shelter during the summer of 2001 in my hometown of Poughkeepsie, NY. I had preconceived notions of large rooms filled with cots, over worked case workers, and depressed women. What I found was completely different. The "shelter" was a large house on a side street filled with rooms that each woman had made into a comfortable living space. I met caring and passionate people, devoted to their jobs. I learned that there was no profile of an abused woman; there were women who were house wives, women who were professionals, women of all socio-economic backgrounds, women of all different ethnic backgrounds, women of all ages, women with children, single women, married women, the list could go on.

There was a strong emphasis placed on the women taking control of their situation, they were the agents of change. One woman that was staying at the shelter left her husband with her three children (all under the age if twelve), with no job, no car, no place to live, and with only a basic English vocabulary. Without the shelter's services it would have been hard for this woman not only to take herself out of a situation where she was emotionally dependent on her husband, but also financially. Without the shelter she would have either had to stay in the abusive situation or live on the street with her three children. I am struck by the ability of a community shelter to make such an impact on a person's life. Hopefully such success stories will allow more shelters to open, since for every woman staying in the shelter there were many more turned away from lack of space.


Question(s) related to this article:

Community Shelters Against Domestic Violence, Are they enough or are other programs needed as well?

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Latest reader comment:

There are certainly more shelters in North America & Europe than elsewhere. A colleague in Uganda tells me that 66% of the women are beaten; they are raped & contacted with AIDS. We have begun the steps to build a shelter. Join us!

This report was posted on May 14, 2002.