Spread the Word: Shelters Don't Help the Real Victims of Violence
A report issued today by RADAR, "Are Abuse Shelters Helping the True Victims of Domestic Violence?" (http://www.mediaradar.org/docs/RADARreport-Are-Abuse-Shelters-Helping-True-Victims.pdf), reveals some disturbing facts about the country's 1,200 abuse shelters.
Based on research studies, reviews of shelter websites, and interviews with former shelter residents and staff, the report reveals that only one in 10 persons are in shelters because of they are victims of battering. Instead, shelters are filled with homeless persons and substance abusers. This makes it hard for true victims of domestic violence to get the help they need.
The report also identifies problems, many widespread , with lax admission policies, unqualified staff, coercive tactics, and weak accountability measures. At Safespace in Florida, a 26-year-old woman was fatally stabbed by another shelter resident. At the Brewster shelter in Arizona, a 12-year-old boy was sexually assaulted by a shelter resident. At Bethany House in Falls Church, Virginia, women are "coached by the staff to go to court and get a protective order against their husbands" even though abuse never occurred.
It addition, while discrimination against male victims of domestic violence is illegal, it is not only commonplace in the domestic violence shelters, it seems to be the norm. Emblematic of this, Judy King Smith, director of the Rape and Domestic Violence Information Center in Morgantown, West Virginia, recently admitted under oath, "We do not shelter men in the shelter even if it's empty."
Let's raise awareness about the underreported yet serious problems lurking in our nation's domestic violence shelters. Please distribute this alert and the RADAR report far and wide so the truth gets out.
Date of RADAR Release: January 26, 2009
R.A.D.A.R. – Respecting Accuracy in Domestic Abuse Reporting – is a non-profit, non-partisan organization of men and women working to improve the effectiveness of our nation's approach to solving domestic violence. http://mediaradar.org