The movement to end domestic violence (DV) has made huge strides in research, intervention, and prevention, but until DV is completely eradicated, shelters are still incredibly important resources for those families who have experienced violence and are seeking safety. Since the 1970s, the presence of DV shelters has grown significantly and in large part due to the grassroots efforts of individuals, small groups, and state coalitions. Despite considerable effort, there are many regions of the country with few accessible options for victims and survivors and particular groups or whole communities who have difficulty accessing quality shelter options (gay men, immigrant survivors, transgender people, people with disabilities, etc). While DV advocates working to intervene and prevent DV certainly understand that shelters are only one part of providing comprehensive services to those affected by DV, advocates also understand that quality shelter services can be an important part of an intervention plan.
Starting and maintaining a shelter involves taking many different types of challenges into account on the administrative, psychological, cultural, legal, and medical levels. It also requires considerable energy, constant training and awareness of best practices, consistent fundraising, and a lifelong commitment to providing excellent services to a population whose needs for services are significant and varied. This Special Collection is meant as a guide for handling these concerns in both new and developing shelters as well as in more established agencies.
The resources provided below provide data and reflections on the provision of shelter and related services in the United States and the important role they play in helping victims and survivors.