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Home / Special Collections / Open Doors: Domestic Violence Shelter Development

Special Collection: Open Doors: Domestic Violence Shelter Development

This is PART 1 of a 2-part collection, which also includes Thinking Beyond Shelter (Or Alternative Ways to Help Survivors) (PART 2 of 2). PART 1 provides resources for building, sustaining, and enhancing shelter programs to meet the diverse needs of domestic violence survivors.

Table of Contents:




Introduction | Back to top

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.

  • Meeting Survivors' Needs Study Resource Page | HTML HTML
    by the National Resource Center on Domestic Violence (Updated 2012)
    This page includes all available resources from the Meeting Survivors' Needs Research Project of the The National Resource Center on Domestic Violence (NRCDV) and the University of Connecticut School of Social Work. Reports document how well local domestic violence programs (both residential and non-residential) are addressing the needs of those reaching out to them for assistance.
    + View Summary
  • Domestic Violence Counts 2013: A 24-hour census of domestic violence shelters and services | HTML HTML
    by the National Network to End Domestic Violence (2014)
    Since 2006, NNEDV has conducted a one-day, unduplicated count of adults and children seeking domestic violence services in the U.S. on September 17, 2013, 87 percent of identified local domestic violence programs in the United States and territories participated. Access annual Census data from NNEDV.
    + View Summary
  • Battered women's shelters: Reflections | PDF PDF (10 p.)
    by Linda Olson for the Washington State Coalition Against Domestic Violence (March 2007)
    This publication offers reflections on the strengths and weaknesses of shelters as a model for helping women abused by their intimate partners.
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  • Domestic Violence Shelter Services: A Review of the Empirical Evidence | PDF PDF (10 p.)
    by Cris M. Sullivan for the National Resource Center on Domestic Violence, Domestic Violence Evidence Project (October 2012)
    This paper examines the empirical studies of shelter effectiveness in the lives of abused women. This review includes studies of “shelter” in general, and does not address the specific programs offered within shelter (e.g., support groups, children’s programs), which are the subject of separate research summaries.
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Nonprofit Management | Back to top

Washington Coalition Against Domestic Violence, Shelter Support Project
The Shelter Managers Learning Network provides support and peer learning opportunities for those who are responsible for or assist in managing shelter programs. Shelter Managers come together to discuss the complexities of shelter management and support each other in strengthening management and leadership skills. The webpage includes articles that examine the relationships between advocates and shelter residents, the impact of shelter rules on helping survivors gain autonomy and independence, and model protocols and forms to address a variety of issues.

  • Nonprofit Management - Information & Resources | PDF PDF (34 p.)
    by the National Resource Center on Domestic Violence (March 2011)
    The selected websites on this page provide free information and resources on areas of interest to the nonprofit community: accountability and evaluation, advocacy, communications and marketing, foundations and grantmaking, fundraising and financial sustainability, governance, management and leadership, staff development and organizational capacity, technology and volunteer management.
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  • Principles and Practices for Nonprofit Excellence | PDF PDF (24 p.)
    by the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits (2005)
    133 management practices provide specific guidelines for individual organizations to evaluate and improve their operations, governance, human resources, advocacy, financial management, and fundraising.
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  • Managing in Hard Times | HTML HTML
    by Baird Straughan for the Institute for Conservation Management (July 2003)
    For managers during tough economic times and shifting political environment. While the focus is on conservation and the environment, the best practices and tools provided will assist any nonprofit in making assessments, decisions, and tracking finances.
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Organizational Structure
  • Board Development: How to Identify, Recruit, Orient and Assess Your Board | HTML HTML
    by the National Council of Nonprofits
    Offers suggestions for the process of shaping a nonprofit’s board into an effective force for good governance.
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  • Ten Dimensions that Shape Your Board | PDF PDF (38 p.)
    by Kim Sundet Vanderwall and Ellen Benavides for MAP for Nonprofits (October 2008)
    This workbook is designed to help organizations intentionally shape their governance to fit their values, resources and community strengths.
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  • Dealing Effectively with Nonprofit Board Conflicts | HTML HTML
    by Vince Hyman for the Fieldstone Alliance
    This article discusses the two main types of board conflicts (conflict among board members and conflict between board and executive or staff) and provides guidelines on how to handle the conflict situations.
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  • Mission-focused management and empowerment practice: A handbook for Executive Directors of DV Programs
    by Cris Sullivan for the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence
    This handbook presents a brief grounding of the Battered Women's Movement and offers specific ideas and strategies for engaging in mission-focused and empowerment management. Please contact PCADV's Contracts Team for a copy by calling 717-545-6400.
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Funding and Sustainability

VAWnet's Grants & Funding Area includes materials to support effective fiscal management, fund development, and proposal writing for agencies working to end violence against women. Find information about funding streams, current grant solicitations available, application information, and other issues and information related to funding.
  • Nonprofit Finance Webinar: Cost Allocation | HTML HTML
    by the Washington State Coalition Against Domestic Violence (February 2010)
    This webinar teaches ways to satisfy funder requirements and simplify the cost allocation process.
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  • Writing a Successful Grant Proposal | PDF PDF (6 p.)
    by Barbara Davis for the Minnesota Council on Foundations (January 2005)
    This Minnesota Council on Foundations document provides an excellent source of information regarding the basics and the details of grant writing for non-profit development.
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  • Wise Women’s Favorite Fundraising Strategies | PDF PDF (7 p.)
    by the North Carolina Coalition Against Domestic Violence (2003)
    Describes ideas generated from a meeting of executive directors of domestic violence programs who have had success with raising unrestricted funding from their local communities.
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Staff and Volunteer Training & Development

Access a variety of useful training materials in VAWnet's Training Tools. Other sections that would be particularly helpful in building staff's capacity to effectively address domestic violence include Movement Herstory & Background and Movement Theory and Philosophical Approaches.
  • Domestic Violence: Understanding the Basics | HTML HTML
    by the National Resource Center on Domestic Violence and VAWnet, the National Online Resource Center on Violence Against Women (November 2012)
    This 1 hour interactive eLearning module provides a basic overview of the problem of domestic violence - laying the framework for understanding the need for shelter programming. It addresses 10 common questions related to domestic violence to help new advocates, allied professionals, students, and the general public achieve a basic understanding of this complex issue.
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  • Theories that shape our work | HTML HTML
    by Men Can Stop Rape (2011)
    This page presents the various theories guiding the work of Men Can Stop Rape, including explanations for Bystander Intervention, Socio-Ecological Model for Prevention, Social and Emotional Learning Theory, and Dominant Stories and Counter-stories of Masculinity.
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  • Best Practices Manual for Domestic Violence Programs | PDF PDF (142 p.)
    by the Arizona Coalition Against Domestic Violence (June 2000)
    Members and volunteers produced this manual in an effort to provide a reference and resource document for agencies planning, developing, implementing and improving domestic violence victim service programs.
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  • Domestic Violence Training for New Staff and Volunteers: Trainer's Manual | PDF PDF (226 p.)
    by Northnode (November 2008)
    This trainer’s manual is the companion to a training curriculum for agencies in Massachusetts that are funded by the Department of Children and Families to provide domestic violence services. The curriculum is a basic training on domestic violence that can be used to orient new staff and volunteers to the world of domestic violence services and give them the information they need to begin their work.
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  • Conversation Guide Series | HTML HTML ( p.)
    by The National Center on Domestic Violence, Trauma & Mental Health (2012)
    The Conversation Guide Series provides guidance to domestic violence programs working to build their own capacity to provide accessible, culturally relevant, and trauma-informed services. Each guide in the series provides instructions on how to lead discussions and activities with program staff.
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Personnel Supervision
  • All About Staffing: Hiring and Keeping the Best Employees | HTML HTML
    by Carter McNamara, MBA, PhD, Authenticity Consulting, LLC (2007)
    This is a basic guide to all aspects of staffing from workforce planning to recruiting to retaining employees.
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  • Free Basic Guide to Leadership and Supervision | HTML HTML
    by Carter McNamara, MBA, PhD for Authenticity Consulting, LLC (2007)
    This basic online guide provides management skills for new managers and supervisors. Topics covered include: core management skills, staffing, employee training, employee performance management, and personnel policies.
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  • Developing and Managing Volunteer Programs | HTML HTML
    by Carter McNamara, MBA, PhD for Authenticity Consulting, LLC (2007)
    Article includes information and links on various aspects of the development and management of volunteer programs including: staffing analysis, job/task descriptions, recruitment, screening, orientation and training, and supervision.
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  • Organizational Prevention of Vicarious Trauma | PDF PDF (8 p.)
    by Holly Bell, Shanti Kulkarni, and Lisa Dalton, published in Families and Society: The Journal of Contemporary Human Services (2003)
    This article discusses the importance of work environment in the development of vicarious trauma problems for domestic and sexual violence workers.
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  • Guidebook on Vicarious Trauma: Recommended Solutions for Anti-Violence Workers | PDF PDF (128 p.)
    by Jan I. Richardson for the Centre for Research on Violence Against Women (2001)
    Attempts to recognize the unique experiences of anti-violence workers in Canada, promoting individual, equity, and organizational supports. This guidebook explores the response to vicarious trauma within certain communities and cultural groups.
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Disaster Preparedness
Shelters may deal with multiple kinds of disasters, from heavy storms to epidemics. It is important to consider the specific needs that both survivors and shelters require during such events. While it may be difficult or impossible to prevent such disasters, this section includes resources and materials which can aid shelters in creating preventive measures where possible and to respond in efficient and effective manner if a disaster strikes.

The VAWnet Special Collection, Disaster and Emergency Preparedness and Response, outlines disaster and emergency preparedness measures specific to domestic and sexual violence service providers as well as for the survivors of such violence.
  • Food, Water, Sanitation, and Hygeine Information for Use Before and After a Disaster or Emergency | HTML HTML
    by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (February 2011)
    This article contains information on why food and water might not be safe to consume during and after an emergency.
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  • An Influenza Pandemic Planning Guide for Homeless and Housing Service Providers | PDF PDF (32 p.)
    by Public Health Seattle & King County (December 2006)
    This Planning Guide is a tool to support planning for pandemic influenza in the homeless and housing service sector, offering new practices for day-to-day operations that will help during an influenza pandemic or any other emergency.
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  • It Can Happen to Your Agency: Tools for Change: Emergency Management for Women’s Services | PDF PDF (85 p.)
    by the B.C. Association of Specialized Victim Assistance and Counseling Programs (2001)
    This guidebook focuses on the increase in violence against women that results from a disaster, and how women’s service agencies can better prepare to meet the ensuing extra demand for service.
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  • Disaster-related Preparedness & Trauma Information Packet | PDF PDF (24 p.)
    by Julie Ann RiversCochran, Joy M. Kruppa, and Sharon Youngerman for the Florida Coalition Against Domestic Violence (FCADV) (July 2006)
    This packet provides a variety of sample policies and procedures that programs can adapt to help address disaster preparedness.
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  • Women, Disaster, and Domestic Violence: Planning Guidelines For Programs, Coalitions, And Disaster Practitioners | HTML HTML
    by Elaine Enarson (1998)
    This document provides disaster preparedness guidelines that are applicable to shelter and non-shelter programs as well as coalitions.
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Services & Programming | Back to top

Shelters do much more than provide a roof and food for a survivor and their children. Many shelters and advocates seek to provide advocacy beyond leaving and a comprehensive array of services that are survivor-defined, empowering, trauma-informed and culturally-relevant. They offer a variety of services and programs to help survivors and their children learn about domestic violence, plan for their safety, engage with others, find resources, and discover new interests and possibilities. In addition, shelter programs can offer legal and economic advocacy to promote autonomy and self-sufficiency. This section includes information about starting support groups, alternative and experiential activities, and creating productive discussions in domestic violence shelters.

Serving Adult Survivors

The Building Comprehensive Solutions Project provides a victim-defined framework for creating solutions to domestic violence. BCS supports the development of comprehensive solutions to domestic violence through: victim-defined advocacy at the individual and systemic levels; collaboration; and advocate-defined resources. The project offers Thinking and Learning Exercises that can be used to explore these key elements with staff and volunteers.


Trauma-Informed Domestic Violence Services is a 3-part Special Collection Series by the National Center on Domestic Violence, Trauma & Mental Health that offers tools for building organizational capacity and developing accessible trauma-informed domestic violence programs.
  • Safety Planning | PDF PDF (11 p.)
    by Jill Davies (1997)
    This paper discusses how to implement comprehensive safety planning for battered women using a woman-defined model. Discusses batterer-generated and life-generated risks, and the role of advocates in supporting safety planning strategies.
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  • Advocacy Beyond Leaving: Helping Battered Women in Contact with Current or Former Partners, A Guide for Domestic Violence Advocates | PDF PDF (36 p.)
    by Jill Davies for Futures Without Violence (formerly the Family Violence Prevention Fund)
    Using the familiar and concrete framework of woman-defined advocacy, the Guide explains advocates’ important role in safety planning when victims are in contact with current or former partners.
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  • When Battered Women Stay... Advocacy Beyond Leaving | PDF PDF (19 p.)
    by Jill Davies, Publication #20, Building Comprehensive Solutions to Domestic Violence, National Resource Center on Domestic Violence (June 2008)
    This paper raises key issues, questions, and dilemmas regarding advocacy with battered women who stay in their relationships. It discusses limitations of safety strategies for leaving, and frames issues central to the expansion of advocacy beyond leaving.
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Support Group Facilitation

I came here and I thought I was going through a really bad situation, but then you hear someone else going through something. It makes it easier...you can relate. A lot of women when they feel afraid or embarrassed and they hear someone else...they feel they can relate and it makes them more comfortable. - Domestic Violence Evidence Project

Support and Empowerment Group Facilitator Training: This a 2-day training from Alianza is designed for facilitators of support and empowerment groups for Latina survivors of domestic violence. The training will enhance the ability of the facilitators to be a bridge to positive life alternatives, to physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being, to hope, and to a life free of violence.

  • Support Groups for Women with Abusive Partners: A Review of the Empirical Evidence | PDF PDF (11 p.)
    by Cris M. Sullivan for the National Resource Center on Domestic Violence, Domestic Violence Evidence Project (October 2012)
    While rigorous evaluations of domestic violence support groups have been quite limited, the broader literature on support group efficacy is informative. Taken together, there is a significant body of evidence indicating that peer support groups can alleviate depression and stress, and increase self-esteem, self-efficacy, and psychological well-being.
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  • Circle of Hope: A Guide for Conducting Effective Psychoeducational Support Groups | PDF PDF (124 p.)
    by the Washington Coalition of Sexual Assault Program (April 2011)
    This manual offers a guide to planning and conducting educational support groups for survivors of sexual violence. It offers practical guidance and recommendations for both the facilitation and design of psychoeducational support groups.
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  • The Power to Change: How to Set up and Run Support Groups for Victims and Survivors of Domestic Violence | PDF PDF (221 p.)
    by Margarida Medina Martins, Petra Viegas, Rita Mimoso, Alessandra Pauncz, Györgyi Tóth, Reet Hiiemäe, Nicola Harwin, and Sally Cosgrove for NANE Women's Rights Association
    An extensive manual for those who are interested in starting a domestic violence support group, with recommendations about facilitation, group development and management, policies, and program models.
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  • Victims with Brain Injuries in Domestic Violence Support Groups | PDF PDF (1 p.)
    by Sue Parry and Judith Avner for the New York State Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence and Brain Injury Association of New York State (2012)
    This handout offers helpful tips for assisting a domestic violence victim who has a traumatic brain injury within a support group setting.
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  • Getting Safe and Sober: Real Tools You Can Use | PDF PDF (217 p.)
    by the Alaska Network on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault (Revised 2008)
    A practical tool kit for use with women who have substance abuse or chemical dependence problems and who are, or have been, victims of domestic violence, sexual assault or sexual abuse.
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  • How to Start and Facilitate a Support Group for Victims of Stalking | PDF PDF (52 p.)
    by The Stalking Resource Center (June 2009)y
    A guide for victim service providers, volunteers, and other concerned community members on how to initiate and run a stalking support group in their agency or community.
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  • Golden Voices: Support Groups for Older Abused Women | PDF PDF (89 p.)
    by Deb Spangler and Bonnie Brandl (July 2003)y
    This manual is designed to help professionals start a support group for older survivors of domestic abuse.
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  • Grupos de Apoyo para Latinas Maltratadas/ Support Groups for Battered Latinas | PDF PDF (85 p.)
    by Christy Koch and Mar'a Marta PavÛn for The Coalition for Family Peace and The North Carolina Coalition Against Domestic Violence (2002)
    This manual was created support the work of establishing a support group for battered Spanish-speaking women. It is intended for use by any group or organization that wants to start a Spanish-language support group in their area.
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Creative Programming

And while art is not the panacea for abuse, it is certainly a way through it and one that not only transforms the atrocities of violence, but also sends a powerful message that ultimately breaks the silence. - Malchiodi, 2008

Arte Sana (art heals) is a national Latina-led nonprofit committed to ending sexual violence and other forms of gender-based aggressions and engage marginalized communities as agents of change. Arte Sana promotes awareness, healing, and empowerment through bilingual professional training, community education, and the arts.

  • How can I incorporate experiential or alternative activities into summer programming with domestic violence survivors? | HTML HTML
    by the National Resource Center on Domestic Violence (July 2011)
    This Technical Assistance response identifies several program ideas that advocates can adapt or replicate in their agencies.
  • Narrative Art and Incarcerated Abused Women | PDF PDF (8 p.)
    by Rachel Marie-Crane Williams for Art Education & Iowa Research Online (March 2004)
    This article describes an alternative arts program for abused women in prison which could be adapted to fit any service setting.
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  • Telling without Talking: Breaking the Silence of Domestic Violence | HTML HTML
    by Cathy Malchiodi for Psychology Today (September 2008)
    This article provides a broad overview of art therapy and includes examples of different approaches to art therapy within the domestic violence advocacy community.
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Serving Children and Youth
A study of 3,400 shelter residents in domestic violence programs across eight states found that more than three in four survivors (78 percent) reported that they had children under the age of 18, and 68 percent had minor children with them at the shelter (Lyon, Lane & Menard, 2008).
In just one day in 2011, domestic violence programs across the country served 25,871 children (NNEDV, 2012).
  • 19,613 children found refuge in an emergency shelter or transitional housing program
  • 6,258 received non-residential services, including children’s support or advocacy, counseling and childcare, among others

Meeting Survivors Needs through Non-residential Domestic Violence Services and Supports: Results of a Multi-State Study revealed that shelter residents were looking for at least 10 types of services related to children, with over 60% of study participants identifying an interest in at least one child-related service. These findings highlight the importance of considering services which address the needs of all members of a family experiencing domestic violence.

Domestic violence programs can help children and youth heal by creating supportive, safe, and stable environments that provide opportunities for counseling and creative expression, guidance in planning for safety and navigating legal protection options, and other resources to support a healthy and happy family. This section includes research and best practices concerning children at domestic violence shelters.

Promising Futures: Best Practices for Serving Children, Youth, and Parents Experiencing Domestic Violence
This online resource developed by Futures Without Violence provides a multi-faceted set of tools to transform or enhance your program’s ability to effectively meet the needs of women, children and youth experiencing domestic violence.

  • Children's Exposure to Violence: A Comprehensive National Survey | PDF PDF (12 p.)
    by David Finkelhor, Heather Turner, Richard Ormrod, Sherry Hamby, and Kristen Kracke for the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs - Bulletin NCJ 227744 (October 2009)
    This Bulletin discusses survey findings regarding childrenís direct and indirect exposure to specific categories of violence, how exposure changes as children grow up, and the prevalence and incidence of multiple and cumulative exposures to violence.
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  • Emerging Responses to Children Exposed to Domestic Violence | PDF PDF (14 p.)
    by Jeffrey Edleson In consultation with Barbara Nissley (October 2006
    This document reviews the new research, policies, and programs focused on children who have witnessed adult domestic violence. It argues that the diversity of children’s experiences requires equally diverse responses from those who serve them.
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  • Enhanced Services to Children and Youth Exposed to Domestic Violence: Promising Practices & Lessons Learned | HTML HTML
    by the National Resource Center on Domestic Violence (May 2012)
    This Special Collection provides lessons learned and related resources from nine HHS-funded 3-year demonstration projects to enhance services to children and youth who have been exposed to domestic violence.
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  • Evidence-Based Practices for Children Exposed to Violence: A Selection from Federal Databases | PDF PDF (27 p.)
    by the U.S. Department of Justice, US Dept of Health and Human Services (2011)
    This document gathers federal research about programs that serve children exposed to violence and includes a summary of the practices associated with successful results.
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  • Honor Our Voices: Children’s Perspectives of Domestic Violence | HTML HTML
    by the Minnesota Center Against Violence and Abuse (MINCAVA) and the University of Minnesota Center for Advanced Studies in Child Welfare with support from the AVON Foundation for Women (October 2011)
    This online learning module features the diaries of three children in different age groups, sharing their experiences of exposure to domestic violence and offering related best practice themes for shelter advocates and other social service providers. Includes a downloadable guide for practice and a digital library of short audio programs.
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A guide for practice when responding to children exposed to domestic violence
This Guide, a companion to the Honor Our Voices online training, aims to elevate children’s voices so that they may be better heard and responded to by shelter advocates, domestic violence service staff, child protection workers, and the general public.

  • Tips for Supporting Children and Youth Exposed to Domestic Violence: What You Might See and What You Can Do | PDF PDF (3 p.)
    by the National Center on Domestic Violence, Trauma & Mental Health (May 2012)
    This tip sheet gives describes common behaviors among infants, young children, school-age children, and adolescents exposed to domestic violence and provides concrete recommendations about ways advocates can help.
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  • The Needs of Children in Domestic Violence Shelters | PDF PDF (52 p.)
    by the Center for Child & Family Health (2010)
    This toolkit for service providers is a teaching tool and guide for understanding how trauma from domestic violence impacts children and how best to serve these children's needs. Although it was designed for use by shelter-based and other domestic violence direct service providers in North Carolina, it has broad applicability.
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  • Children First: A Guide for Service Providers Working with Children Exposed to Family Violence | PDF PDF (105 p.)
    by Maggie Nighswander and Jocelyn Proulx for RESOLVE Manitoba (May 2007)
    This manual reviews programming issues and considerations for children 12 years and younger affected by intimate partner violence. It contains information that could be helpful for service providers in developing or modifying children’s programming.
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As persons, all children have the same rights as others, including adults... Individuals providing services to children need to be involved in protecting and advocating for these rights on the behalf of the children they are serving. They have to serve as examples, by respecting these rights themselves. - Nighswander & Proulx, 2007
  • Supporting Parenting in Shelter Webinar | HTML HTML
    by Margaret Hobart for the Washington State Coalition Against Domestic Violence (May 19, 2011)
    This 1.5 hour webinar explores practical approaches to supporting parenting in shelter. The presenters offer suggestions for policy change, making space for parenting, and for providing survivor centered advocacy that helps rebuild parent/child bonds and resiliency.
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  • Supporting the Mother/Child Bond to Build Strength & Resiliency: Strategies for Domestic Violence Advocates | PDF PDF
    by Ann Brickson and Beth Plautz for the Wisconsin Coalition Against Domestic Violence, Adapted by Casey Keene (2010)
    This document offers 13 key elements of a strong mother/child relationship for families who have lived with domestic violence and offers concrete suggestions for advocacy and support.
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  • Helping Children Thrive - Supporting Woman Abuse Survivors as Mothers: A Resource to Support Parenting | PDF PDF (78 p.)
    by Linda Baker and Alison Cunningham for the Centre for Children & Families in the Justice System (2004)
    This resource reviews the needs of abused women as mothers, batterers as parents, effects of power and control tactics on mothers, the potential impact of woman abuse on children of different ages, and strategies used by young people to cope with violence in their homes.
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  • Model Protocol on Working with Battered Women and their Teenage Boys in Shelter | PDF PDF (12 p.)
    by Lupita Patterson for the Washington State Coalition Against Domestic Violence (October 2003)
    This model protocol contains a recommended policy, and recommended procedures on working in shelter, program activities for teens, community collaboration, training and confidentiality and safety planning.
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  • Advocacy Matters: Helping Mothers and Their Children Involved with the Child Protection System | PDF PDF (12 p.)
    by the Family Violence Prevention Fund (2004)
    This document's purpose is to underscore the importance of the advocates work, provide tips for how to improve practice in this area, and inspire them to better understand women's situations and help them be safe and self-sufficient.
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  • Model Protocol For Advocates Working With Battered Women Involved In The Child Protection System | PDF PDF (35 p.)
    by Lupita Patterson for the Washington State Coalition Against Domestic Violence (December 2003)
    This protocol contains an introduction that outlines the origins and key features of CPS, and recommended policy and procedures. Covered are: individual advocacy strategies, determining if a mandatory report is required, making a mandatory report, reviewing case files, and advocating in court.
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Supporting Friends, Family, and Pets
  • Model Protocol on Working with Friends and Family of Domestic Violence Victims | PDF PDF (25 p.)
    by Lupita Patterson for the Washington State Coalition Against Domestic Violence (April 2004)
    This manual provides guidance around beginning or enhancing work with friends or family of survivors as primary supports in his/her life.
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  • Sheltering Animals and Families Together | HTML HTML
    by Allie Phillips, Sheltering Animals and Families Together Program (SAF-T Program), hosted by the National Resource Center on Domestic Violence (September 2011)
    This webinar describes the linkage between the urgent need to protect domestic violence victims and their pets from further abuse and the comfort that pets can provide, especially in times of stress and trauma.
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  • Sheltering Animals & Families Together: Start-Up Manual | PDF PDF (58 p.)
    by Allie Phillips for SAF-T (2012)
    This manual provides simple, how-to methods for starting SAF-T at a domestic violence shelter. SAF-T is available to encourage every domestic violence shelter throughout the United States and other countries to keep people and their pets safe.
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  • Guidelines for Directories of Domestic Violence Pet Support Programs | PDF PDF (5 p.)
    by the National Link Coalition (May 2013)
    Hundreds of domestic violence shelters are now providing safe pet housing options to enable families to leave abusers without having to make an impossible choice to leave their pets behind and at risk. This resource provides guiding principles for the structure and maintenance of pet support (foster care and on-site housing) directories.
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Meeting Psychological and Medical Needs
All people deserve good medical and psychological care; these services are particularly important in shelter, when people may be suffering from physical and psychological impacts of the abuse they have experienced in addition to other unrelated conditions. Shelters may also provide programming to address the trauma many families have experienced. Therefore, trauma-informed mental health treatment and resources are especially important. This section includes information about keeping shelters sanitary and healthy, developing medication policies, increasing emotional safety, and helping to meet the psychological needs of those who have experienced trauma.

Psychological Needs

See the related Special Collection Series: Trauma-Informed Domestic Violence Services.

The mission of the National Center on Domestic Violence, Trauma & Mental Health is to develop and promote accessible, culturally relevant, and trauma-informed responses to domestic violence and other lifetime trauma so that survivors and their children can access the resources that are essential to their safety and well-being. NCDVTMH provides training, support, and consultation to advocates, mental health and substance abuse providers, legal professionals, and policymakers as they work to improve agency and systems-level responses to survivors and their children.

  • A Systematic Review of Trauma-Focused Interventions for Domestic Violence Survivors | PDF PDF (27 p.)
    by Carole Warshaw, Cris Sullivan, and Echo Rivera for the National Center on Domestic Violence, Trauma & Mental Health (February 2013)
    This literature review provides an analysis of nine trauma-based treatments specifically designed or modified for survivors of domestic violence, along with caveats and recommendations for research and practice going forward.
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  • Real Tools: Responding to Multi-Abuse Trauma - A Tool Kit to Help Advocates and Community Partners Better Serve People with Multiple Issues | PDF PDF (353 p.)
    by Debi S. Edmund and Patricia J. Bland for the Alaska Network on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault (2011)
    This toolkit focuses on survivors of multi-abuse trauma - those who are affected by multiple issues that negatively affect safety, health, or well-being. A primary focus of the toolkit is on how on many survivors of domestic violence experience alcohol and drug dependence, complex trauma, homelessness, and other hardships.
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  • Increasing Emotional Safety in Domestic Violence Shelters | PDF PDF (8 p.)
    by the National Center on Domestic Violence, Trauma and Mental Health (December 2011)
    This is a conversation guide for domestic violence shelter staff as part of a training on emotional safety.
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  • Making a Connection When Trauma Affects Interaction and Communication | PDF PDF (5 p.)
    by the National Center on Domestic Violence, Trauma & Mental Health (December 2011)
    This Conversation Guide is designed to help you increase your staff’s ability to support survivors when trauma affects interaction and communication. .
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  • Understanding Traumatic Triggers | PDF PDF (1 p.)
    from the National Center on Domestic Violence, Trauma & Mental Health (December 2011)
    This short fact sheet explains what “triggers” are and how to handle situations that might be triggering a person.
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  • Tips for Making Connections with Survivors Experiencing Psychiatric Disabilities | PDF PDF (1 p.)
    from the National Center on Domestic Violence , Trauma and Mental Health (December 2011)
    This tip sheet gives practical recommendations for domestic violence advocates working with survivors who are experiencing psychiatric disabilities.
    + View Summary
  • Self Injury: Information Sheet for Domestic Violence Advocates | PDF PDF (2 p.)
    from the National Center on Domestic Violence, Trauma and Mental Health (December 2011)
    This fact sheet gives recommendations for domestic violence advocates engaging with those who self injure.
    + View Summary
  • Tips for Creating a Welcoming Environment | PDF PDF (2 p.)
    from the National Center on Domestic Violence, Trauma and Mental Health (August 2011)
    This tip sheet gives recommendations about creating welcoming environments for people who have experienced domestic abuse and other traumatic events.
    + View Summary
  • Freedom from Violence: Tools for Working with Trauma, Mental Health and Substance Use | HTML HTML
    by Tessa Parkes, Cathy Welch, Kashmir Besla, Sarah Leavitt, Maggie Ziegler, Angela MacDougall, Susan Armstrong, Belinda LaCombe, Mireille LeClaire, Nancy Taylor, and Jill Cory for the BC Association of Specialized Victim Assistance & Counseling Programs (November 2007)
    This comprehensive toolkit includes information, personal stories, and guides for specific situations for service providers. It works within an Anti-Oppression Perspective and uses a Harm Reduction Framework to promote safety for women who have experienced trauma, mental health problems, and substance abuse, issues which are highly pertinent to any domestic violence shelter.
    + View Summary
Medical Needs

See the related Special Collection: Domestic Violence and Health Care.

The National Health Resource Center on Domestic Violence supports health care practitioners, administrators and systems, domestic violence experts, survivors, and policy makers at all levels as they improve health care’s response to domestic violence.

  • Shelter Health: Essentials of Care for People Living in Shelter | PDF PDF (198 p.)
    by Ken Kraybill and Jeff Olivet (2006)
    This document provides guidance on creating shelter environments that are safe and healthy for residents and staff.
    + View Summary
  • Medical Power & Control Wheel | PDF PDF (1 p.)
    by The Domestic Violence Project, Kenosha, WI, adapted from the original wheel by the Domestic Abuse Intervention Project
    This graphic depicts some ways in which healthcare providers may inadvertently contribute to increase the isolation and decrease the safety of victims of domestic violence.
    + View Summary
  • Model Medication Policy for DV Shelters | PDF PDF (9 p.)
    by Mary Malefyt Seighman, JD, Kelly Miller, JD, and Rachel White-Domain, JD for the National Center on Domestic Violence, Trauma & Mental Health (November 2011)
    The Model Medication Policy is designed to offer guidance to domestic violence programs on adopting medication policies that are accessible, trauma informed, and compliant with anti-discrimination laws.
    + View Summary
"Abusive partners can use survivor’s HIV-status as a tool to maintain power and control by withholding or threatening to withhold medication as a tactic of power and control, interfere with HIV-related medical appointments, increase physical violence when HIV-positive survivors are physically-ill, and inflict HIV-related emotional abuse such as threatening to ‘out’ an HIV-positive survivor’s status or trying to shame them because of having HIV. These abusive tactics can substantially reduce the physical and mental health for HIV-affected survivors.” (National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs, 2012.)

See VAWnet's Special Announcement for National Women & Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day to learn more.

Transitional Housing Needs

  • Transitional Housing Toolkit | HTML HTML
    by the National Network to End Domestic Violence (February 2014)
    This toolkit is meant to provide transitional housing providers with easy access to information and resources to enhance services to survivors.
    + View Summary
  • Closing the Gap: Integrating Services for Survivors of Domestic Violence Experiencing Homelessness, A Toolkit for Transitional Housing Programs | PDF PDF (58 p.)
    by Carmela DeCandia, Corey Anne Beach, and Rosenie Clervil for the The National Center on Family Homelessness (2013)
    By laying the groundwork to understand the intersection between domestic violence and homelessness, this toolkit offers practical strategies that providers can follow to improve service integration.
    + View Summary

Communal Living | Back to top

Shelter Rules
While some rules and regulations are necessary for shelters to be effective, many programs have discovered that an excess can be unproductive and may trigger memories of violence and coercive control. Many perpetrators of domestic violence try to control their partners by imposing excessive rules (for example, nightly curfew). Thus, a shelter environment may unwittingly mimic the constraints of an abusive relationship. This section explores the different ways that shelters can encourage autonomy and respect past experiences while maintaining a sense of order and stability.

We found many of our rules unnecessarily controlling, and found they did not foster the environment of empowerment that we wanted to create in our program... we agreed that it would not hurt to try a new approach to our services, especially one that is designed to promote empowerment. - Tautfest
  • Abuse of Survivors within Domestic Violence Shelters: A Power and Control Wheel | PDF PDF (1 p.)
    by Emi Koyama and Lauren Martin (2002)
    This 'power and control wheel' was created to illustrate how domestic violence shelters may inadvertently abuse power and control over survivors who seek services from them.
    + View Summary
  • Conflict Resolution Tools for Domestic Violence Shelter Staff | HTML HTML
    by the National Resource Center on Domestic Violence for VAWnet, the National Online Resource Center on Violence Against Women (November 2009)
    This collection includes selected materials and resources intended to equip advocates with a contextual framework and practical skills to better resolve conflicts that often arise within a shelter environment.
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Although advocates are often pushing systems, communities and individuals to change behaviors and attitudes about violence against women, it is not as easy for advocates to change their own systems. - MCADSV
  • How We Gave up Curfew (and a lot of other rules, too) | PDF PDF (8 p.)
    by Karin White Tautfest for the Washington State Coalition Against Domestic Violence
    This resource tells the story of the Women's Support Shelter at the YWCA Pierce County in Tacoma, WA. After examining their policies and thinking critically about the role of rules, this shelter decided to drastically cut down on shelter rules, and was rewarded with successful results.
    + View Summary
  • Online Shelter Rules Advocacy Toolkit | HTML HTML
    by the Washington State Coalition Against Domestic Violence (2012)
    We know that abusers often impose many rules on their partners, and that a primary harm of domestic violence is being robbed of one’s autonomy. We want to create environments where survivors can reclaim their autonomy, and feel secure without excessive rules and punitive systems that echo the abuser’s rules. This advocacy toolkit offers explores how to do this.
    + View Summary
  • Model Rights and Responsibilities | PDF PDF (3 p.)
    by the Washington State Coalition Against Domestic Violence
    This document provides general guidelines to keep in mind when crafting shelter rules, including a model set of rules structured in the form of rights and responsibilities.
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Physical Elements of Shelters
Physical space and design are essential parts of how survivors experience and access a shelter. This section highlights the oft-overlooked physical elements such as location, building materials, and interior design.

Building Dignity: Design Strategies for Domestic Violence Shelter
Thoughtful design dignifies survivors by meeting their needs for self-determination, security, and connection, while supporting parenting and minimizing the need for rules. This project of the Washington Coalition Against Domestic Violence reflects a commitment to creating welcoming, accessible environments that help to empower survivors and their children, and have their origins in conversations with shelter residents and advocates. The site is designed to be useful to advocates, executive directors, architects and designers.

  • Increasing Agency Accessibility for People with Disabilities: Domestic Violence Agency Self-Assessment Guide | PDF PDF (60 p.)
    by Cathy Hoog, Abused Deaf Women's Advocacy Services, for the Washington State Coalition Against Domestic Violence (Revised 2004)
    Intended for use in domestic violence victim services, this guide was produced to provide domestic violence programs and agencies with a practical tool to review the accessibility of the agency and services offered for victims with disabilities.
    + View Summary
  • Accessibility: Ramps, ADA Bathrooms and a Whole Lot More!e | PDF PDF (12 p.)
    by the Washington State Coalition Against Domestic Violence (2009)
    This accessibility checklist takes you from the street, through your building, to your meeting, reviewing your reading materials and more. This checklist will help you identify ways to increase access to your services for survivors with a disability.
    + View Summary
When I wanted to implement some physical fixes and we didn't have the money, I went to the community and asked for it. I can't believe how much you can get when you ask for it! - WSCADV
  • Physical 'Fixes' that Help Programs Minimize Rules | PDF PDF (2 p.)
    by the Washington State Coalition Against Domestic Violence
    This handout facilitates creative thinking about changing physical environments in shelters so that potentially oppressive rules can be eliminated.
    + View Summary
Feeding Shelter Residents
Most shelters provide meals for their residents. This section is a starting-off point for shelters assessing their nutrition practices to ensure that food is appropriate, healthy, and safe.
  • An Introduction to the Basic Concepts of Food Insecurity | PDF PDF (3 p.)
    by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) (2008)
    This brief document explains the concept of food insecurity: outlining its four dimensions (availability, access, utilization, and stability), explaining the two general types (chronic and transitory) based on duration, exploring the severity of the problem, and providing definitions of the related concepts of hunger, malnutrition, and poverty.
    + View Summary
  • Domestic Violence and the Holidays: What’s Cooking? | PDF PDF ( p.)
    Technical Assistance Guidance by the National Resource Center on Domestic Violence (November 2012)
    With the approaching holiday season, questions may arise about how to appropriately respond to the food-related needs of survivors in shelter and how to manage excess food donations. This brief document offers guidance from the NRCDV Technical Assistance Team.
    + View Summary
  • 'Be Food Safe' Fact Sheets for At-Risk Populations | HTML HTML
    by U.S. Department of Agriculture Food and Drug Administration (September 2011)
    This page includes fact sheets about food safety for at-risk populations, including people with HIV/AIDS, pregnant women, older adults, and people with diabetes.
    + View Summary
  • HACCP-Based Standard Operating Procedures | HTML HTML
    by the National Food Service Management Institute (2005)
    This page provides access to Federal information about best practices and procedures for food safety.
    + View Summary

Making Shelters Accessible to All | Back to top

Shelters must be accessible to all, but many shelters may not even be aware that certain populations cannot access their services. This section aims to help DV advocates change or enhance their services so that any survivor who is in need of a safe space feels that they are welcome and that the services and supports that are provided are culturally relevant. Differences of race, ethnicity, citizenship status, age, language, ability, gender identity, and sexual orientation should not be obstacles to receiving high quality services.

Advocacy with and support services for women who are dealing with domestic violence needs to be better connected to advocacy and organizing against other oppressions. - Action for Social Change (NRCDV, 2005)
Communities of Color
Visit the Culturally-Specific Institutes and Resource Centers of the Domestic Violence Resource Network for specialized resources, training, and technical assistance for meeting the needs of Indigenous, Asian and Pacific Islander, Latin@, and African American survivors of domestic violence.

Each of the Culturally-Specific Institutes of the Domestic Violence Resource Network are funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to inform and strengthen domestic violence intervention and prevention efforts at the individual, community, and societal levels.

Domestic Violence in Latin@ Communities
This special collection provides a compilation of tools and resources developed specifically by Latin@s and for Latin@s as well as culturally adapted materials (not simply translations) to address domestic violence in Latin@ communities.

  • Cultural Issues Affecting Domestic Violence Service Utilization in Ethnic and Hard to Reach Populations | PDF PDF (182 p.)
    by Kristen Senturia, Marianne Sullivan, & Sandy Ciskefor for Public Health - Seattle & King County, & University of Washington (2000)
    This comprehensive report describes different cultural issues that may affect how different populations can and do use domestic violence services.
    + View Summary
  • Innovative Strategies to Address Domestic Violence in Asian and Pacific Islander Communities: Examining Themes, Models and Interventions | PDF PDF (44 p.)
    by Mimi Kim for the Asian & Pacific Islander Institute on Domestic Violence (Revised February 2010)
    This report sets the agenda for future project endeavors. It is an initial inquiry into the broad universe of API experiences and reflections regarding our work towards addressing domestic violence in API communities.
    + View Summary
  • A Comparison of Domestic Violence Advocacy Models | PDF PDF (2 p.)
    by Casa De Esperanza (2008)
    This chart compares domestic violence advocacy models and serves as a reference for effective advocacy for Latina families.
    + View Summary
  • Adaptation Guidelines for Serving Latino Children and Families Affected by Trauma | PDF PDF (83 p.)
    by the Workgroup on Adapting Latino Services for the Chadwick Center for Children and Families (2008)
    These Adaptation Guidelines have been designed for use by anyone who is interested in better serving Latino/Hispanic children and families who have been impacted by trauma.
    + View Summary
  • Inclusion and Access: Tools to Support Culturally Competent Domestic Violence Programs | PDF PDF (60 p.)
    by the Women of Diversity Task Force for the New Jersey Coalition for Battered Women (2006)
    This report contains information about how to increase racial inclusiveness in a domestic violence program.
    + View Summary
...The intersection of racial discrimination and economic inequity created obstacles that often inhibit the ability of women of color to access domestic violence services. Often, distorted societal images of women from marginalized groups create another layer of complexity when victims of domestic violence seek help. - New Jersey Coalition for Battered Women, 2006
  • Developing Culturally-Relevant Responses to Domestic Abuse: Asha Family Services, Inc. | PDF PDF (56 p.)
    by Antonia Vann for the National Resource Center on Domestic Violence (2003)
    Documents the development and growth of the first and only recognized culturally-specific family violence intervention and prevention program in Wisconsin which employs methods specific to serving African American families.
    + View Summary
  • The Intersection of Spirituality, Religion, and Intimate Partner Violence in the African American Community | PDF PDF (17 p.)
    by Tameka L. Gillum for the Institute on Domestic Violence in the African American Community (2009)
    This resource includes information about the role of religion in the African American community as it relates to domestic violence, and it includes specific recommendations for advocates in domestic violence and sexual assault programs.
    + View Summary
  • Ozha Wahbegganis: Exploring Supervised Visitation and Exchange Services in Native American Communities | PDF PDF (24 p.)
    by Lauren J. Litton and Oliver J. Williams for the Institute on Domestic Violence in the African American Community (2007)
    This resource explores ways to serve families who have experienced intimate partner violence and where children are visiting or being exchanged between the abused and abusive parent, with a specific focus on cultural considerations relating to Native Americans.
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  • Concepts in Creating Culturally Responsive Services for Supervised Visitation Centers | PDF PDF (36 p.)
    by Dr. Oliver J. Williams for the Institute on Domestic Violence in the African American Community (2007)
    This resource focuses on how to become a culturally responsive organization, particularly in terms of visitation practices for families who have experienced intimate partner violence.
    + View Summary
  • Culture Handbook | PDF PDF (28 p.)
    by Sujata Warrier for the Family Violence Prevention Fund (2005)
    This handbook highlights the importance of culture and provides guidance to develop cultural competency at the individual and organizational levels.
    + View Summary
Immigrants and Refugees

Immigrant Women and Domestic Violence
This collection highlights the common experiences of immigrant women who are in abusive relationships, the legal protections and public benefits available, and practices and suggestions for increasing the effectiveness of services provided to immigrant women.

  • Resources for Working with Immigrant Women | HTML HTML
    by Futures Without Violence (2012)
    This resource contains information and suggestions to make domestic violence services more accessible for immigrant women.
    + View Summary
  • Overcoming Cultural Barriers in Working with Immigrant Battered Women | PDF PDF (4 p.)
    by Legal Momentum (1998)
    This information sheet for advocates provides tips for understanding and becoming sensitive to the barriers faced by immigrant women in seeking safety from domestic violence.
    + View Summary
Although domestic violence victims share common experiences with violence, the psychological, emotional, emotional, spiritual, economic, legal and social service needs of victims vary from culture to culture. We can only offer effective assistance to an abuse victim if we address her needs in her own cultural context and tailor relief to meet her needs. - Legal Momentum, 1998
  • Intimate Partner Violence in Immigrant and Refugee Communities: Challenges, Promising Practices and Recommendations | PDF PDF (66 p.)
    by the Family Violence Prevention Fund for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (March 2009)
    This report offers information on the challenges, prevention and treatment of IPV in immigrant and refugee communities. It includes recommendations and summaries for future work and funding efforts.
    + View Summary
  • Understanding Children, Immigration, and Family Violence: A National Examination of the Issues | PDF PDF (21 p.)
    by Elizabeth Marsh Das, Jen McDonald, Sandra Villanueva, Elena Cohen, Lonna Davis, Leni Marin, and Gail Pendleton for Futures Without Violence (September 2005)
    This resource gives background information and best practice recommendations for those serving immigrant children and families dealing with family violence.
    + View Summary
Older Adults

Older victims may be abused by intimate partners, adult children, grandchildren or other family members, caregivers or others in positions of authority. In a majority of cases, the perpetrator is the victim’s family member, most often an intimate partner (Acierno et al., 2009; Lifespan of Greater Rochester, 2011).
  • The Essentials: Preventing Elder Abuse | PDF PDF (17 p.)
    by the National Committee for the Prevention of Elder Abuse (2011)
    This is a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) document created as a starting point for raising awareness of elder abuse.
    + View Summary
  • Guiding Principles on Working with Older Survivors of Abuse | PDF PDF (2 p.)
    by the National Clearinghouse on Abuse in Later Life (January 2001)
    This tip sheet gives basic recommendations for working with older survivors of abuse.
    + View Summary
  • Interactive Training Exercises on Abuse in Later Life | PDF PDF (145 p.)
    by Bonnie Brandl and Deb Spangler, National Clearinghouse on Abuse in Later Life (September 2004)
    This manual offers interactive exercises on understanding and responding to abuse in later life.
    + View Summary
  • Golden Voices: Support Groups for Older Abused Women | PDF PDF (89 p.)
    by Deb Spangler and Bonnie Brandl (July 2003)
    This manual is designed to help professionals start a support group for older survivors of domestic abuse.
    + View Summary
  • Barriers to and Promising Practices for Collaboration between Adult Protective Services and Domestic Violence Service Providers | PDF PDF (29 p.)
    by Joanne Marlatt Otto and Kathleen Quinn, National Center on Elder Abuse (May 2007)
    The paper describes the roles of the Adult Protective Services and domestic violence services and discusses barriers to collaboration between the two service systems. It then presents promising practices of collaborative initiatives.
    + View Summary
People with Disabilities

If there is such a high rate of violence against persons with disabilities, why is the rate of domestic violence services to those individuals so low? - Washington State Coalition Against Domestic Violence, June 2003

The NRCDV Access Initiative: Documenting our progress towards greater accessibility
The Access Initiative represented NRCDV’s organizational commitment to accessibly and individuals with disabilities. This resource page describes the story of the Access Initiative, offers definitions of key terms, provides an overview of our key activities and accomplishments, and offers lessons learned and recommendations.

  • DV Shelter Information | HTML HTML
    by Deaf Vermonters Advocacy Services (January 2009)
    This resource is a guideline that all domestic violence shelters can follow to improve the accessibility of their services to Deaf victims.
    + View Summary
  • Violence in the Lives of the Deaf or Hard of Hearing | HTML HTML
    by the National Resource Center on Domestic Violence for VAWnet, the National Resource Center on Domestic Violence (June 2009)
    This collection offers information regarding the experiences and needs of individuals who are Deaf or hard of hearing and victims/survivors of domestic and/or sexual violence. The purpose of this collection is to: 1) increase knowledge and understanding of Deaf culture, 2) provide resources to assist helping professionals in direct service work with Deaf individuals, and 3) highlight best practices.
    + View Summary
  • Facts About Programs Delivering Battered Women's Services to Women with Disabilities | HTML HTML
    by the Center for Research on Women with Disabilities and the Baylor College of Medicine (January 2000)
    This resource describes research done on domestic violence organizations who provide services to women with disabilities and gives basic information.
    + View Summary
  • Traumatic Brain Injury As a Result of Domestic Violence: Information, Screening and Model Practices | PDF PDF (184 p.)
    by the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence (2011)
    The materials in this toolkit facilitate ways to better equip domestic violence program staff to recognize, understand and respond more effectively to the specific needs of those living with TBI as a result of domestic violence.
    + View Summary
  • Working with Victims with Brain Injuries in Domestic Violence Shelters | PDF PDF (3 p.)
    by Sue Parry and Judith Avner for the New York State Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence and Brain Injury Association of New York State (2012)
    This handout provides guidelines for assisting victims of domestic violence who have sustained brain injuries while they are staying in a shelter.
    + View Summary
  • Women, Disability and Violence: Strategies to Increase Physical and Programmatic Access to Victims’ Services for Women with Disabilities | PDF PDF (33 p.)
    by Lisa McClain for the Center for Women Policy Studies (March 2011)
    This article discusses the intersections of gender, violence, and disability and presents strategies to increase physical and programmatic access to victims’ services for women with disabilities.
    + View Summary
  • Accessibility: Ramps, ADA Bathrooms and a Whole Lot More! | PDF PDF (12 p.)
    by the Washington State Coalition Against Domestic Violence (2009)
    This accessibility checklist takes you from the street, through your building, to your meeting, reviewing your reading materials and more. This checklist will help you identify ways to increase access to your services for survivors with a disability.
    + View Summary
  • Model Protocol on Service Animals in Domestic Violence Shelters | PDF PDF (23 p.)
    by Phil Jordan and Summer Carrick for the Washington State Coalition Against Domestic Violence (February 2009)
    This document provides basic information about service animals and the people who use them, the laws that apply to domestic violence shelters and service animals, and policies and procedures for domestic violence shelters regarding service animals.
    + View Summary
  • Enough and yet Not Enough: An Educational Resource Manual on Domestic Violence Advocacy for Persons with Disabilities in Washington State | PDF PDF (163 p.)
    by Cathy Hoog for the Washington State Coalition Against Domestic Violence (June 2003)
    This educational resource manual on domestic violence advocacy for persons with disabilities was developed to enhance the skills of community based domestic violence advocates.
    + View Summary
Language Access

The Language Access & Interpretation Project of the Asian & Pacific Islander Institute on Domestic Violence offers a comprehensive resource guide and free technical assistance and training through their Interpretation Technical Assistance & Resource Center (ITARC).

  • Developing a Language Access Plan for Your Agency | PDF PDF (2 p.)
    by the Asian and Pacific Islander Institute on Domestic Violence
    This tip sheet clearly lists the steps that shelters can take to develop a language access plan for Limited English Proficiency persons.
    + View Summary
  • Ensuring Meaningful Access for Survivors with Limited English Proficiency (LEP) | HTML HTML [93:55]
    by Rosie Hidalgo, for Casa de Esperanza (July 30, 2013)
    According to the U.S. Census, over 25 million people over the age of five living in the United States speak a language other than English, and do not speak English very well. In order to carry out enhanced safety planning, ensure meaningful access to services, and provide critical information to assist survivors in making informed choices, it is imperative to ensure meaningful access to services for ALL survivors. This webinar reviews key issues related to ensuring access for survivors with LEP.
    + View Summary
  • Ensuring Access to Services for Survivors with Limited English Proficiency: Frequently Asked Questions | PDF PDF (5 p.)
    by Casa De Esperanza (2011)
    This is a compilation of answers to frequently asked questions regarding Title VI of the Civil Rights Act, which requires all programs that receive federal funds to take reasonable steps to ensure meaningful access to individuals with Limited English Proficiency.
    + View Summary
  • Resource Guide for Advocates & Attorneys on Interpretation Services for Domestic Violence Victims | PDF PDF (122 p.)
    by Chic Dabby and Cannon Han for the Asian & Pacific Islander Institute on Domestic Violence (August 2009)
    These guidelines from the Interpretation Technical Assistance and Resource Center focus on court interpretation for domestic and sexual violence victims with limited English proficiency.
    + View Summary
Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Trans-Identifying Survivors

The myth that partner abuse does not occur in LGBTQ communities can cause LGBTQ survivors to question their experiences and may deter them from seeking services. Domestic violence programs can contradict this myth and validate LGBTQ survivors' experiences by becoming inclusive of LGBTQ survivors and providing services and outreach that raise awareness about abuse in LGBTQ communities."
- The Network/La Red, 2011

Preventing and Responding to Domestic Violence in Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, or Queer (LGBTQ) Communities
The select resources and research in this Special Collection illustrate the LGBTQ communities’ experiences with domestic violence within the U.S. Resources especially relevant to these individuals, as well as straight allies and professionals, address the issue of domestic violence in LGBTQ communities, relationships, and the impact on society. Guidance for enhancing culturally specific practice and policy initiatives is provided.

  • Making Shelters Safe for Transgender Evacuees | PDF PDF (1 p.)
    by National Center for Transgender Equality, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and Lambda Legal
    This document provides guidelines for making shelters safe for transgender evacuees.
    + View Summary
  • Open Minds Open Doors: Transforming Domestic Violence Programs to Include LGBTQ Survivors | PDF PDF (134 p.)
    by Mary-Elizabeth Quinn for The Network/La Red (2010)
    This guide outline the process that The Network/La Red suggests for making domestic violence programs more LGBTQ- inclusive. Each of the chapters focuses on one aspect of that process in detail, offering ideas for implementation.
    + View Summary
  • A Service Provider’s Guide for Working with GBT Victims and Survivors of Domestic Abuse | PDF PDF (6 p.)
    by the Gay Men’s Domestic Violence Project (January 2001)
    This guide offers tips for service providers in addressing one of the most serious health issues for gay, bisexual, and transgender (GBT) men. Includes guidelines for education, workplace environment, assessment, response, and safety planning.
    + View Summary
  • Transitioning Our Shelters: A Guide to Making Homeless Shelters Safe for Transgender People | PDF PDF (54 p.)
    by Lisa Mottet and John M. Ohle for The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Policy Institute (2003)
    This guide is specifically directed towards homeless shelters, but it has important information and suggestions that can be used by DV shelters serving transgender individuals.
    + View Summary
  • Making Women’s Shelters Accessible to Transgendered Women | HTML HTML
    by Allison Cope and Julie Darke for the Trans Accessibility Project (October 1999)
    This manual was written to assist shelters for abused women in making the changes required to provide transgender women with the respectful and supportive services that all women serve.
    + View Summary
  • Why It Matters: Rethinking Victim Assistance for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer Victims of Hate Violence and Intimate Partner Violence | PDF PDF (15 p.)
    by The National Center for Victims of Crime and the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs (March 2010)
    This report describes widespread gaps in victim services for LGBTQ victims of crime and recommends steps to improve both the services and their accessibility.
    + View Summary

Confidentiality & Information Sharing | Back to top

It is imperative that shelters are safe and secure for survivors. Stalking, harassment, and ongoing threats of harm are common tactics used by abusers used to regain control when the person they are victimizing leaves or attempts to leave. Decisions about recording or sharing personal information must be handled with utmost discretion. For more information about the safe use of technology, including data security and online service provision, please see the Special Collection: Safety & Privacy in Digital World.

Confidentiality and privilege are key to keeping battered women safe and represent the cornerstones of all successful advocacy and shelter programs. At its most basic level, confidentiality equals safety. In order to maximize and safeguard confidentiality, advocates must be familiar with a variety of laws, policies and requirements. - BJWP, 2007
  • Confidentiality: An Advocate’s Guide | PDF PDF (45 p.)
    by Julie Kunce Field, Deb Goelman, Barbara Hart, Rebekah Lee, Sandra Murphy, Kim Tolhurst, and Roberta Valente for the Battered Women’s Justice Project (Revised September 2007)
    This guide familiarizes advocates with a variety of laws, policies, requirements, and best practices to protect victims’ confidentiality.
    + View Summary
  • Confidentiality and Information Sharing Issues for Domestic Violence Advocates Working with Child Protection and Juvenile Court System | PDF PDF (16 p.)
    by Jill Davies for the Greenbook National Technical Assistance Team
    This paper presents information about three laws related to information sharing: confidentiality, privileged communications, and mandated reporting. It includes information on making decisions on how to handle and use information about child abuse.
    + View Summary
  • Victim confidentiality considerations for domestic violence and sexual assault programs when responding to rare or emergency situations | PDF PDF (5 p.)
    by Julie Kunce Field for The Confidentiality Institute and National Network to End Domestic Violence (2010)
    This article provides guidelines for thinking about confidentiality in emergencies and creating policies to address victim safety.
    + View Summary
  • Model protocol on Confidentiality When Working with Battered Women | PDF PDF (20 p.)
    by Lupita Patterson, Updated by Christine Olah for the Washington State Coalition Against Domestic Violence (June 2007)
    This model protocol covers definitions, federal and state obligations, recommended policy and procedure, training, protecting confidentiality of immigrant and refugee women, and dealing with the media. It also contains sample forms for releases.
    + View Summary
  • Thoughtful Documentation: Model Forms for Domestic Violence Programs | PDF PDF (34 p.)
    by the Missouri Coalition Against Domestic & Sexual Violence (Revised June 2011)
    It is important that all programs think about and discuss what information they keep and why. This resource provides a set of sample forms that shelters can use to collect information about clients, and includes rationale for data elements included and excluded.
    + View Summary

BUILDING COMMUNITY PARTNERSHIPS | Back to top

Shelters can develop multi-disciplinary teams with other services (including the criminal justice system, child protective services, and mental health services) in order to become more helpful and reduce inefficient inter-agency bureaucracy. These partnerships can be powerful in referring survivors to other services, sharing research easily, and taking on projects that may be too large for single organizations to complete. This section includes guidance for developing successful partnerships related to economic justice, sexual assault, child protection, health care, mental health, substance abuse, disability rights, elder abuse, responsible fatherhood, and other intersecting issues.

  • Collaboration Multiplier | HTML HTML
    by the Prevention Institute (July 2011)
    Collaboration Multiplier is an interactive framework and tool for analyzing collaborative efforts across fields. It is designed to guide an organization to a better understanding of which partners it needs and how to engage them, or to facilitate organizations that already work together in identifying activities to achieve a common goal, identify missing sectors that can contribute to a solution, delineate partner perspectives and contributions, and leverage expertise and resources.
    + View Summary
  • Skills for Successful Collaborations | PDF PDF (191 p.)
    by Day Piercy for the National Resource Center on Domestic Violence (February 2000)
    This is a skill-building curriculum in negotiation, collaborative mindset, strategic thinking, and meeting facilitation. It is the third of three interrelated training curricula developed for staff of grassroots domestic violence organizations.
    + View Summary
  • Evaluating Coordinated Community Responses to Domestic Violence | PDF PDF (10 p.)
    by Melanie Shepard (April 1999)
    This document explores mechanisms for coordination of community responses to domestic violence, examines research regarding various components of community responses, and highlights studies that evaluate the effectiveness coordinated community responses.
    + View Summary
Adult Protection
  • Barriers to and Promising Practices for Collaboration between Adult Protective Services and Domestic Violence Service Providers | PDF PDF (29 p.)
    by Joanne Marlatt Otto and Kathleen Quinn, National Center on Elder Abuse (May 2007)
    The paper describes the roles of the Adult Protective Services and domestic violence services and discusses barriers to collaboration between the two service systems. It then presents promising practices of collaborative initiatives.
    + View Summary
  • A National Look at Elder Abuse Multidisciplinary Teams | PDF PDF (26 p.)
    by Pamela B. Teaster and Lisa Nerenberg for the National Committee for the Prevention of Elder Abuse & National Center on Elder Abuse (January 2001)
    This is a report about the research done on multidisciplinary collaborations within the elder abuse movement.
    + View Summary
  • Building a Coalition to Address Domestic Abuse in Later Life. Planning and Training Guide | PDF PDF (198 p.)
    by Ada Albright, Bonnie Brandl, Julie Rozwadowski, Mary K. Wall, National Clearing House on Abuse in Later Life and AARP Foundation (Revised 2004)
    This training curriculum offers suggestions on facilitating community groups, particularly helping community members form a group, or to strengthen existing groups and organize forums for community members to talk about abuse in later life.
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Child Welfare
The NCJFCJ’s Resource Center on Domestic Violence: Child Protection and Custody provides training and technical assistance to professionals seeking to improve outcomes on child protection cases that involve domestic violence. NCJFCJ's Family Violence Department offers five specialized information packets on child protection and custody in the context of domestic violence.

The Greenbook Initiative was a federally funded project that promoted an integrated approach for child welfare workers, domestic violence advocates, and family court judges to better help battered women and their children achieve safety.

  • Building Bridges Between Domestic Violence Organizations and Child Protective Services | PDF PDF (39 p.)
    by Linda Spears for the National Resource Center on Domestic Violence (February 2000)
    This document is a resource for advocates seeking to strengthen efforts to help battered women with abused and neglected children.
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  • CPS: Closing the Distance Between Domestic Violence Advocacy and Child Protective Services | PDF PDF (13 p.)
    by Jennifer Inman for the Washington State Coalition Against Domestic Violence (July 2008)
    This article explains collaboration efforts between domestic violence agencies and CPS in Oregon. Additionally, it gives detailed observations from a first-person perspective and includes resources (including a report by Ellen Pence and Terri Taylor of Praxis International).
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  • Confidentiality and Information Sharing Issues for Domestic Violence Advocates Working with Child Protection and Juvenile Court System | PDF PDF (16 p.)
    by Jill Davies for the Greenbook National Technical Assistance Team
    This paper presents information about three laws related to information sharing: confidentiality, privileged communications, and mandated reporting. It includes information on making decisions on how to handle and use information about child abuse.
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Disability Rights
See the related Special Collection, Violence in the Lives of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing.
  • Forging New Collaborations: A Guide for Rape Crisis, Domestic Violence, and Disability Organizations | PDF PDF (24 p.)
    by Nancy Smith and Sandra Harrell for the Vera Institute of Justice’s Center on Victimization and Safety (April 2011)
    Vera Institute of Justice’s Center on Victimization and Safety has created a roadmap for bringing together agencies at the intersection of violence and disability so that they can create a new and effective approach to safety, healing, and accessibility to services for their clients.
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Economic Justice
See the related Special Collections, Housing and Domestic Violence, Asset Building and Individual Development Accounts, and Poverty and Domestic Violence.

The Assests for Independence Resource Center's online toolkit, Helping Domestic Violence Survivors Build Assets, highlights ways that domestic violence service providers and AFI project staff can collaborate to bring Individual Development Accounts (IDAs) and asset building strategies to domestic violence survivors.

  • The Intersection of Domestic Violence and Homelessness | PDF PDF (12 p.)
    by Linda Olsen, Chiquita Rollins, and Kris Billhardt for the Washington State Coalition Against Domestic Violence and the Volunteers of America Home Free Program (June 2013)
    This paper provides a historical context of domestic violence and homelessness and outlines how housing/homeless and domestic violence movements have and continue to intersect.
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  • New Challenges for the Battered Women's Movement: Building Collaborations and Improving Public Policy for Poor Women | PDF PDF (18 p.)
    by Susan Schechter (January 1999)
    This paper advocates the adoption of an agenda that recognizes the importance of safety, justice and economic resources for women and their families and urges that advocates pay particular attention to the concerns and interests of poor women.
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  • Asset Building Programs for Domestic Violence Survivors | PDF PDF (14 p.)
    by Cynthia K. Sanders in consultation with Meg Schnabel (November 2011)
    This Applied Research paper discusses asset building programs, including some of the benefits of asset ownership and why asset building programs for domestic violence survivors may be important. The dearth of literature on assets and domestic violence is reviewed, calling for further research.
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  • Economic Empowerment of Domestic Violence Survivors | PDF PDF (14 p.)
    by Judy L. Postmus in consultation with Rene Renick, Sandra Mayoral Pedroarias, and Kim Pentico (October 2010)
    This Applied Research paper reviews and critiques the existing literature on economic abuse experienced by domestic violence survivors and selected economic empowerment programs designed to address such abuse and its aftermath.
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Faith Communitites
The Special Collection, Domestic Violence and Religion, outlines how faith based leaders from many different spiritual communities can become effective allies in the prevention and intervention of domestic violence in their communities.

  • Walking Together | HTML HTML
    by FaithTrust Institute (2005)
    This guide for purchase is geared toward providing advocates strategies and suggestions for effective collaborations with religious communities.
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Health Care
The National Health Resource Center on Domestic Violence is the nation’s clearinghouse for information on the health care response to domestic violence and provides free technical assistance and materials related to screening, collaboration, home visitation, reproductive health, and other topics.

  • Building Bridges Between Domestic Violence Advocates And Health Care Providers | PDF PDF (41 p.)
    by Janet Nudelman for the National Resource Center on Domestic Violence (June 1999)
    This paper describes opportunities for practice and policy agenda collaborations that respond to the growing challenges facing advocates working to end domestic violence in the health care arena.
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Healthy Marriage & Responsible Fatherhood
The Special Collection, Building Collaborations Between Healthy Marriage & Relationship Education and Domestic Violence Programs is designed to help practitioners, administrators and advocates in the fields of Healthy Marriage & Relationship Education (HMRE) and Domestic Violence - as well as those interested in these fields - understand and learn about the overlapping and complementary goals of each field, and to build bridges in order to effectively address and respond to domestic violence and promote safe and healthy relationships.

  • Building Bridges Between Healthy Marriage, Responsible Fatherhood, and Domestic Violence Programs | PDF PDF (24 p.)
    by Theodora Ooms, Jacqueline Boggess, Anne Menard, Mary Myrick, Paula Roberts, Jack Tweedie, and Pamela Wilson for the National Conference of State Legislatures and Center for Law and Social Policy (December 2006)
    This guide shares key lessons learned at the “Building Bridges Between Healthy Marriage, Responsible Fatherhood, and Domestic Violence Fields Conference,” where participants focused on strategies for working together to achieve the goals all three fields have in common -- fostering safe and healthy intimate partner relationships and parent-child relationships.
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Mental Health & Substance Abuse
Part 3 of the Special Collection Series on Trauma-Informed Domestic Violence Services, Developing Collaborationas and Increasing Access, provides resources for building collaboration to ensure that survivors and their children have access to culture-, DV- and trauma-informed mental health and substance abuse services.

  • Locating Mental Health & Substance Abuse Supports for Survivors: A Reference Sheet for Domestic Violence Advocates | PDF PDF (2 p.)
    by the The National Center on Domestic Violence, Trauma & Mental Health (February 2012)
    This document contains resources that you can use to locate additional supports for survivors who are experiencing mental health or substance abuse conditions.
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  • Collaboration Charter | PDF PDF (22 p.)
    by the Domestic Violence & Mental Health Collaboration Project (Revised November 2013)
    This charter represents the collaborative agreement among partners of the Domestic Violence and Mental Health Collaboration Project. The charter includes agreements on mission and values, roles and responsibilities, decision-making, conflict resolution, communications, and confidentiality.
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Military
  • The Intersection of Domestic Violence and the Military: Working across disciplines | HTML HTML
    by the National Resource Center on Domestic Violence (Updated July 2013)
    This collection examines co-occurring issues experienced by veterans (PTSD, TBI, MST) and provides information related to best practices when addressing these co-occurring issues through a multi-systems approach. Challenges experienced by female service members and veterans are explored through the lens of violence against women.
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Runaway & Homeless Youth
  • Runaway and Homeless Youth and Relationship Violence Toolkit | HTML HTML
    a collaborative project of the National Resource Center on Domestic Violence and the Family Violence Prevention and Services Program of HHS (February 2010)
    This toolkit was developed by and for advocates in the runaway and homeless youth and dv/sa fields to help programs create partnerships, meaningful services, and effective intervention and prevention strategies for working with youth at risk.
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Rural Communities
  • Building Partnerships to End Violence Against Women: A Practical Guide for Rural and Isolated Communities | PDF PDF (131 p.)
    by Morgan Baldwin, Gail Edinger, Sarah Leavitt, Tracy Porteous and Gisela Ruebsaat for the BC Association of Specialized Victim Assistance and Counseling Programs (2005)
    This is an easy-reference guide to help communities across Canada create and maintain partnerships to help prevent domestic violence.
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Sexual Violence
  • Working Together And/Or Apart: Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence | PDF PDF (16 p.)
    by the National Sexual Violence Resource Center (Fall/Winter 2002)
    Provides a healthy discussion of sexual violence and domestic violence collaboration and appreciation of respective work by interviewing two advocates that have worked in sexual assault program, domestic violence programs and dual issue programs.
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  • Riding Tandem on the Pathway to Prevention: Ohio's experience collaboratively preventing intimate partner and sexual violence | PDF PDF (16 p.)
    by Jo Simonsen for The Ohio Sexual and Intimate Partner Violence Prevention Consortium (OSIP-VP) (2013)
    This paper discusses the advantages and challenges of conjoining the issues of intimate partner violence and sexual violence for the purposes of simultaneously advancing primary prevention.
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  • Reshape Issue 17: Dual Coalitions | PDF PDF (16 p.)
    by the Sexual Assault Coalition Resource Sharing Project (Winter 2006)
    This newsletter addresses issues that arise in dual coalitions. The articles focus on ideas and experiences of those working on creating balance and equality within dual coalitions.
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