Many people are silently suffering in the hands of their loved ones in and outside their families. They are constantly getting abused, intimidated, and battered for reasons only known to their attackers. These attackers could be close family members, intimate partners, or ex-partners. Many of these victims suffer because they do not have an exit strategy from such suffering in a safe manner to get the necessary help. It is thus important for communities to establish effective and sustainable temporary domestic violence shelters to rehabilitate the victims and prevent domestic violence.
Domestic violence is defined as abuse committed by a partner, ex-partner, girlfriend, or boyfriend, emotionally, verbally, emotionally, or sexually and repeated over time. It can also take place among heterosexual or same-sex couples (McNamara & Fields, 2000). This kind of the abuse shows the social and cultural norms that perpetrate abuse of power and control in intimate and domestic relationships. Studies have shown that in California alone, 6 percent of the women have at one time been abused by their loved ones (Bugarin, 2002). This does not come without a cost, for example, medical expenses, property loss, productivity at work, pain, suffering, and loss of lives. It was estimated that in 1993, the cost of domestic violence was $67 billion, which translated to 15 percent of the total crime (Bugarin, 2002).
These domestic violence shelters provide services, such as counseling, advocacy, support groups, and shelter. One such center is SafeHaven, a violence shelter that seeks to end domestic violence through supporting victims to safety and social change. The shelter was established in 2006 as a merger between the Women’s Shelter and Women’s Haven in Fort Worth, Arlington, and provides its service at no cost. The center helps women and their children to rebuild their lives and empower them to live without fear.
Violence shelters and transitional homes are important to victims both male and female who experience severe cases of violence. Victims who seek admission in shelters often are those living in a precarious situation, both financially and emotionally, and are prone to little education with less or no external support and ability to get work. However, not all victims know about or have access to shelter services. Living far from domestic violence shelters and transitional centers poses a threat to combating domestic violence. Moreover, geographical isolation an understaffing prove to a challenge in ensuring that victims are attended to and empowered (Bugarin, 2002).
In the process of establishing a violence shelter, the community members would have to be educated on the benefits that will accrue from the program. It would be appropriate to share the shelter’s vision with the community to gain their participation and cooperation. The construction of the shelter would be done by the local state government leaders after consultations with the people in the community. To fund the construction, the organization will then secure money from the state government and other non-governmental organizations and volunteer institutions. In addition there would be need to apply for a license from the state department of health, to run the center.
When people report their cases to the domestic violence shelter, their needs for safety and shelter will be first addressed. This includes provision of emergency financial assistance, planning for the victims’ safety, and transportation to the safe or shelter centers. Once in the shelters, legal, personal advocacy, and conventional healing services will be provided. In addition, more services, such as referral services, continuous case work, follow up services, and network connections to other necessary services to the victims of domestic violence.
The domestic violence center will contact both primary and tertiary violence prevention measures to combat any physical violence where possible before it occurs and to stop its progress. After admitting victims, the shelter will take the initiative to establish the underlying causes of the violence as well as the major risk factors that may have contributed to the violence. This is because violence may be fueled by social, personal, or economic causes therefore demanding different angles of solving it. The legal aspects of the violence will be looked at and the necessary steps taken to arraign the perpetrators prosecuted for damages. Psychological counselling will follow whereby victims undergo individual and group therapies to regain their esteem and gain independency. Where necessary, conciliatory measures will be taken to reconcile the abuser with the victim.
The domestic violence shelter will also provide victims with anger management support programs. This will enable those abused and their abusers to stop holding grudges and resolve conflicts without use of violence. For those victims abused because of their sexual orientation, the center will accord the victims and their perpetrators the ability to see the signs, accept their relatives for who they are and stop engaging in violent behaviors. The center will give the public their hotline numbers so that victims can report their cases for legal help. Moreover, the shelter will provide outreach, prevention and support services, as well as educational services to help prevent and mitigate domestic violence.
Domestic violence shelters for victims have been useful in improving the outcomes and overall live quality of the victims and their children. Studies show that Victims who seek refuge in these shelters show a significant improvement and satisfaction after three weeks upon admission (McNamara & Fields, 2000). Additionally, female victims who receive supportive agency services coupled with counselling while in these centers show a greater improvement, such as coping abilities, life functioning, and psychological sense of support than their counterparts who do not receive such services (Perez, Johnson, Wright, 2012).
Group therapy offered in local domestic violence shelters benefits victims and their children greatly from bonding experiences. Further, there is evidence that women who fail to use shelter and transition services stick in abusive relationships for longer than those who take the vital step to enroll for shelter services (Porat & Itzhaky, 2008). Besides, victims receive empowerment that helps them cope and reduce post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms. This is because many abuse victims with post-traumatic stress experience denial which makes them unable to access the necessary help since they feel that abuse is a sign of love (Perez et al., 2012). Advocacy services provided at the shelters teaches victims that the longer they stay at the centers, the greater the outcomes leading to independence upon discharge from the centers.
The stay at the domestic violence shelters helps boost the self-esteem of the victims and their children and accord them a feeling of control over their lives. Most abusers are driven by the need to take control of their relationships but when they are faced with resistance they turn violent. The act of violence continues until it becomes a habit as the victims and their children suffer internally. Prolonged stay, for at least three months at the shelters mitigates feelings and symptoms of depression. After such a time, victims show a greater level of satisfaction and have minimal chances of returning to their abusive relationships, as compared to their counterparts who leave the shelters after a short stay at the shelter centers, increasing their independency levels (Porat & Itzhaky, 2008).
The idea of a shelter is a benefit to a community. It is important to establish shelters for domestic violence victims, to build on family morals, reduce costs involved in the abuses and help improve lives of the affected. Social and community leaders and family heads should come up with ways to prevent violence against their loved ones by creating a culture that does not tolerate domestic violence. If a parent is being abused by their partner, children learn such tendencies and carry them on to their adulthood. Inclusion of positive images of men and women, boys and girls who support one another and non-violence in families is crucial especially in areas where shelters are rare.