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Why Some DV Shelters Need To Reconsider Their Policies

By Survivors United Against Domestic Violence - SUADV

As a former resident in many DV shelters across the USA and, a former staff member, it has become easy to assess why some shelters' success rate is very low. Furthermore, through listening to other residents and sharing our mutual concerns, I have come to the conclusion that the policies in effect in most DV shelters are unsuitable for DV survivors.

I believe that the originators of DV shelters had the best of intentions and just by setting up facilities for women and children to seek haven from the abuser/batterer, they have made a great contribution to developing awareness and better understanding of domestic violence. However, as pioneers, they lacked an appropriate model to follow so they designed their system based on the only shelters available at the time: homeless shelters.

Nevertheless, many years have gone by since the inseption of DV shelters and much has been learnt about the particular issues affecting this specific social group. Yet, most DV shelters are still following the old model and, some, have even added characteristics that emulate correctional facilities. In doing so, they "inadvertendly" keep victimizing DV survivors and contributing to the "blaming the victim" mentality. Thus, rendering their system ineffective.

* DV survivors are not criminals/inmates.

* They are not responsible for the abuse. It is their abuser/batterer the one that has made a choice to resort to tyranny and victimization.

* DV survivors are not the problem; the abuser/batterer is.

* DV survivors deserve to be heard and treated with dignity and respect regardless of their shortcomings.

* DV survivors are not inepts or stupid. They've managed to survive, haven't they?

* Not all DV survivors are mentally ill, alcoholics, or drug addicts.

* DV survivors do not need to be treated like children and/or in a condescending way. They abuser did that to them for years.

* DV survivors need to be part of the solution and regain control over their lives and choices.

The current status quo regarding DV survivors vs. abusers/batterers is one of punishment. Our system and society expects DV survivors to be the ones to turn their life around, abandon everything, live in shelters, give up most of their rights and freedom, instead of the abuser/batterer. In doing so, we are punishing the victims. These expectations are so outrageous that they are equivalent to putting rape victims in jail or prison while letting the rapist run rampant in our communities.

Therefore, as DV survivors, we have come to the conclusion that this situation and status quo will perpetuate ad nauseaum unless we, the affected parties, take control and take action. Thus, Survivors United Against Domestic Violence (SUADV) was born. We are certain that just like groups such as MADD, we will make the big difference regarding this issue. Join us.

About The Author
Survivors United Against Domestic Violence - SUADV

Barbara is the founder and CEO of Survivors United Against Domestic Violence - SUADV - a not-for-profit corporation run by DV survivors for DV survivors.

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