Supporting conflict resolution between shelter residents is an important part of domestic violence intervention work. Helping women better identify the roots of conflict with other shelter residents and reinforcing how to resolve conflict in respectful and productive ways can go a long way to building a truly supportive, nurturing and empowering shelter environment. When conflicts arise between advocates and shelter residents, shelter staff must ensure that their response does not reinforce the power and control dynamics that are at the core of domestic violence. Advocates who work to end domestic violence come to their positions with their own personal/familial experiences, values, and perceptions, which all impact their approach to shelter work and their comfort in naming and addressing the challenges that arises.
While problems and conflicts might be inevitable within domestic violence shelters, whether staff and volunteers have the skills and tools necessary to resolve them should not be left to chance. The scenarios and resources that follow provide a framework for enhancing staff skills in this area and better meet the needs of survivors who turn to us for assistance.