Our program against domestic violence provides a safe shelter for victims and their families within our community. In order to support a broad range of issues and diverse group of victims, our program has many services available to ensure the safety of everyone involved. Staying at our shelter is usually the first step towards a normal life for a family that has a history of domestic violence. It is our goal to apply all areas of our expertise to ensure the safety and rehabilitation of every family that reaches out to us for help. Shelters have been proven to be a way out for victims who are generally in a more violent situation than victims that would use other services while still staying at their home (Itzhaky & Ben Porat, 2005). Our program is comprised of many services to provide the greatest amount of help to the victim. Though not every victim or family will need a physical shelter to stay, ensuring that we always have a safe place for victims to stay at is always our primary concern.
For the duration of their stay, the victim will work closely with our professional staff to assist with fixing or finding the safest way out of the victim’s relationship. Residents of the shelter follow a plan established by our councilors that has been tailored specifically for each victim. We provide basic necessities that would be needed for day-to-day life at no charge. We can also provide a means for the victim to apply for food stamps since in most situations, the aggressor has the only form of income for a family. Our shelter has a state-of-the-art alarm system, which will give the victim a peace of mind that their aggressor will not be able to come after them under our care. Although it is not to be used as a replacement for 9-1-1, we offer a crisis line for individuals that feel the need to speak to a counselor right away.
The crisis line is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Our counselors are able to give immediate advice on domestic violence situations, and can assist the victim with leaving the home or residence they are currently staying at to safely make it to our shelter. If a counselor feels that the victim is still in immediate danger, he or she will contact emergency services for the victim to ensure that no one is harmed. Child abuse, whether direct or indirect, is another area in which we offer our services. Many times, the children affected have witnessed domestic abuse happening between their parents, and may have been victims themselves. We have counselors in our shelter that are educated and trained to help children become social, and ensure that their interaction with other children is safe for everyone. Male children that see domestic violence happen in the household are three times more likely to apply domestic violence in their own household when they are grown up (Straus, Gelles, & Steinmetz, 1980).
During their stay at the shelter, we will provide transportation for the children to get to their current schools. We have an on-site clinic for all domestic violence victims to use at any time, but for severe injuries, we will refer victims to the hospital. Many cuts and bruises can be tended to within our shelter, so using our clinic does not create a financial burden for the victim since a hospital will charge for a visit. Counseling services are also offered by our program, and do not require residence within the shelter for a victim to speak with a counselor. Areas of counseling include providing advice to victims that do not want to leave their current residence, help with victim’s friends or families, and serving victims that have previously stayed at the shelter.
We offer one-on-one counseling with trained professionals, and group counseling for victims that have experience similar levels of abuse. It is important for victims of domestic violence to understand that they do not necessarily need to stay in our facilities in order to receive help. Sometimes friends or family of victims will suspect that something isn’t right in their relationship, and our counselors can assist acquaintances with reaching out to the victims to ensure that the victim receives the help they need. Public education is the final, and sometimes overlooked service that we offer as a domestic violence shelter. Not all victims wish to initiate the call for help, and spreading our word that we are here to help can give them the drive they need for us to provide our services. In order to ensure we reach the most amount of people in our community, we have brochures in almost every public facility in the area. We strive to reach areas that are geographically separated from major cities, since women who are far away from shelters are more likely to delay requesting services from domestic violence shelters (Saftlas, Wallis, Schochet, Harland, & Peek-Asa, 2011).
Domestic violence shelters are very important for the victim to have, benefits of our shelter immediately affect the victim’s quality of life. After just three weeks, most victims will already feel an improvement in their situation and have a greater outlook on life (McNamara & Fields, 2000). Without our shelter, victims of domestic violence would have nowhere else in the community to turn for a long-term shelter and assistance. As long as a victim is staying at our shelter, that person is no longer in a situation where they can be harmed, emotionally or physically. Our shelter benefits the community by strengthening each victim to become an independent person, and enables each person of the community to turn around and give back to different areas by volunteering to help others.
In conclusion, our shelter provides many services that would suit the needs of many victims from domestic violence. We provide housing, crisis support, help for children, basic healthcare, counseling, and public education to help as many victims as possible. The benefits of our shelter are specifically tailored to assist the victim get back on track to have a normal healthy life again. Finally, it is our goal to provide the highest level of service to each person that reaches out to us, since it could be our very own friend, family member, or colleague. References Itzhaky, H., & Ben Porat, A. (2005). Battered women in shelters: Internal resources, well-being and integration.
Affilia, 20, 39-51. McNamara, J., & Fields, S. (2000). Psychological Reports. Differential functioning of outpatients and patients of a domestic violence shelter on the abuse disability questionnaire, 56, 893-894. Saftlas, A., Wallis, A., Schochet, T., Harland, K., & Peek-Asa, C. (2011). Prevalence of intimate partner violence among an abortion clinic population. American Journal of Public Health, 100(8), 1412-1415. Straus, M. A., Gelles, R. J., & Steinmetz, S. K. (1980). Behind closed doors: Violence in the American family. Garden City, NY: Anchor Press/Doubleday.