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A women's shelter is a place of temporary refuge and support for women escaping violent situations, such as rape, and domestic violence.

Having the ability to leave a situation of violence is valuable for women who are under attack because such situations frequently involve an imbalance of power that limits the woman's financial options. The most dangerous time for a domestic violence sufferer is on the point of exit. If their spouse catches them on their exit then they are at the most risk of being seriously injured or killed.

A response to violence against women, a women's shelter sometimes also serves as a place for women to organize for equality, which is an important distinction from standard government-funded service-based approaches to domestic violence. Many states and cities have domestic violence coalitions supporting women's shelters. In America, the National Network to End Domestic Violence provides a national voice supporting shelters for victims of domestic violence as well as other resources.

History of Shelters

Shelter for abused women is not new. For example, in feudal Japan, men were not allowed to set foot in nun's temple. So some Buddhist temple in Japan were known as kakekomi dera (runnaway temple) where abused women take shelter before filing for divorce.[1][2]

In the West, there had been crisis accommodation available for women for sometime. In 1964, Haven House, the first "modern" women's shelter in the world, opened in California.[3] Later others opened in places such as Sydney with similar ideals in mind.[4] The first homeless shelter specifically for women, Rosie's Place in Boston, Massachusetts, was opened in 1974 by Kip Tiernan. The first women's aid refuge/shelter was opened in Cardiff (Wales)just after the Erin Pizzey refuge, in 1972/3 (Cardiff & Vale Women's Aid) seeking verification.

Women's shelters are not without controversy. Charles E. Corry writes in the Equal Justice Foundation site: "Shelters for battered women are an essential part of any campaign to control family violence. However, present shelters must be restructured to eliminate dogmatic approaches, and embrace the complex reality of human nature and family life."[5]

The constitutionality of a state-funded shelter's refusal to admit male victims of domestic violence has been challenged in California. (Blumhorst v. Haven Hills, et al., Los Angeles Superior Court Case No. BC291977)

See also


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