Serving Victims of Abuse: Inner-Workings of a Family Violence Crisis Shelter
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I used my time as an intern in a women’s crisis shelter to research family violence and observe its victims. Using the sociological method of participant research, I was able to observe the dynamics of this group of women and study their interactions with shelter workers, as well as each other. Because family violence has the ability to affect so many aspects of a victim’s life, the interactions and norms that take place in the shelter environment are significant and important for sociologists to study. Through informal interviews with the shelter staff and continuous observation, this qualitative research explores the norms and interactions that enable the shelter to function and effectively help its clients. The process of leaving an abusive situation or recovering from a violent incident takes time, determination, and support. The shelter’s ultimate goal is for survivors of abuse to live independently and take control of their own lives. The shelter serves as a safe place where women and their children can begin the healing process through support and empowerment. The services provided by this family violence crisis shelter, and similar organizations across the country, are socially necessary and invaluable to the communities they serve.