Women Avoid Abuse Shelters

By Carey Roberts, September 09, 2008, The Conservative Voice

Christina Wilson was caught in an abusive relationship, so last November she took refuge at the Cherokee Family Violence Center in Canton, Ga. She hoped the 12-bed shelter would help her mend the wounds and get her back on her feet.

Pregnant with child, she was assigned to a room with another woman who seldom bathed. And the room itself smelled. When the shelter wouldn't move her to another room, Wilson filed a complaint.

In retaliation, Wilson found herself 'exited' from the shelter, leaving her homeless. Then she had her baby. The little boy had acid reflux, which made swallowing milk difficult.

The shelter notified the Florida child abuse unit to be on the look-out for a homeless mother with an infant. So when the child abuse inspectors discovered the child was underweight, they scooped up the child, not to be returned to his mother's arms for five excruciating months.

Wilson sums up her experience with the Cherokee abuse shelter in one word: a 'hardship.'

No doubt some women have been helped by their stays at a shelter. But far too often, women experience more mistreatment in the shelter than at the hands of their abusers.

Reports of verbal abuse and assaults are not unusual. At the First Step shelter in Harrisonburg, Va., a resident was attacked by a drug-addled woman, demanding she hand over her phone card or else she would slit her throat.

Do these incidents represent the unfortunate exception to the rule, or do they foreshadow a pervasive problem?

In a surprising number of cases, shelters turn away the persons who need help the most. St. Jude House in Crown Point, Ind. refused to admit an 18-year-old woman who was being tortured by her parents with electrical cables. And Joy Taylor recounts the story of a rape victim who was refused admission to a Washington state shelter because she didn't fall within its poverty guidelines.

'Shelters have denied housing to African American women for not sounding fearful enough or sounding too strong,' reveals Tricia Bent-Goodley in her article, 'Perceptions of Domestic Violence: A Dialogue with African American Women.'

Once inside, these women discover the shelter services are either unhelpful or non-existent.Peggy Grauwiler of New York University interviewed 10 abused women, whose experiences are summarized in her article, 'Voices of Women.' None of the ladies reported positive interactions with local shelters. One woman described the shelter this way: 'It's a mess, it's a crowd'I was supposed to isolate everybody I knew, everything I knew.'

Jennifer Langhinrichsen-Rohling's research found that one-quarter of women in an abuse shelter were engaged in stalking their partners. But shelters don't provide counseling for women to overcome their penchant for abuse. That would run counter to the prevailing philosophy that the woman bears no responsibility for her actions.

Once these women leave the shelter they often eschew further contact. Angela Kalani, supervisor at the West Hawaii Shelter program, admits, 'Many women who exit the shelter choose not to follow up with shelter staff. This seems to be the norm for many years.'

So what has gone wrong?

First, shelter staff are poorly trained. The Florida Institute for Family Violence Studies reviewed reports from 13 states and found one of the most consistent problems is the need for 'more well-trained and well-paid domestic violence center staff.'

Second, many shelters have steeped themselves in a radical feminist ideology.Researcher Sara Epstein reported on her survey of 111 shelters in the American Journal of Community Psychology. When asked to identify their main goal, 45% stated they endorsed the feminist mission 'To help change societal patterns of violence against women.' Only 25% said they were 'devoted to the treatment and support of battered women.'

For example, the Marin (Calif.) Abused Women's Services (M.A.W.S.) advertises its mission is to 'end the violence, abuse, oppression, and intimidation of women' – but doesn't say a word about providing drug treatment, counseling, or anger management classes.This means you're more likely to hear a neo-Marxist rant about the evils of patriarchy than get anything that resembles practical help for your problem.

Once word gets out that abuse shelters are an ideological cesspool, the women and men who truly need help stop coming.

But an empty shelter is a fund-raiser's nightmare. After all, if we're claiming to halt the epidemic of domestic violence, we need to show off a few warm bodies every now and then.

So the shelters have become filled with women who are druggies, homeless waifs, or are trying to escape a criminal record. That's why abused persons who really need help avoid shelters like the plague.




Father knows best

While reading the above article I got a sense that it is not entirely the intention of Carey Roberts to pledge for making abuse shelters better, but more to make them go away.

He has written many columns on RenewAmerica.us, most of which strongly anti-feminist and twelve of them addressing abuse shelters only in the last three months. I could ridicule Roberts as an old white man who wants to return to the days of father knows best, but I'd rather let him speak for himself:

But now, our college campuses have come up with a radically different vioew of Valentine’s Day: the Vagina Monologues. This play, which celebrates lesbianism and pedophilia, claims to liberate women by the vulgar repetition of the V-word more than a hundred times.

I actually watched the PBS version of the Vagina Monologues and the worst I can say about it is that I found it shallow. I believe there is more depth to the uterine tract than was explored, but in no way was I scared by it, but Carey Roberts is frightened of the women's rights movement and I believe hopes in the second coming of the founding fathers. And everyone is in on the plot to undermine the poor white male, from the United Nations, to Amnesty International, even Laura Bush is a feminist hag for saying she doesn't want George W to stretch his feet out on the living room table.

In a way the criticism of Carey Roberts reminds me of some of the criticism I've seen towards CPS. While I subscribe to much of the criticism towards CPS, I contribute most of what is wrong with it to: under-funding, ill-working incentive systems and lack of professionalism. I'm very much opposed to the way CPS works, but I am not against the institution in principle. Like Careys opposition towards abuse shelters I see some opposition towards CPS dish up the horror stories that are prevalent to undermine the institute itself. Again based on a notion of father knows best, some authors in fact want government to take their filthy hands off the family altogether and often see a socialist or communist conspiricy behind this.

I guess many of these writers have never visited Scandinavia, the Netherlands or Germany. All these countries have very much embraced what anti-governmentalists so fear and despise. None of these countries has a totalitarian regime and human life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness are as much adhered to as in the US. There are in some sense more restrictions, that is certainly true. It is more difficult to start a poluting industry, child beating is not allowed, it's more difficult to raise a child in a religious sect, there are standards for education, which limit parents to teach their children nonsense, it's more difficult to hire illegal immegrants and there are certainly much stronger restrictions on the right to bear arms. None of these restrictions I see as damaging, in fact I think these restrictions make a country a more civilized society. Like laisse fair economy eventually leads to the rich dominating the poor, no government oversight over what happens within families only leads to more abuse.

Women's shelters should be well-funded and professionally run and the same applies to CPS. Unfortunately fiscal conservartives don't want to pay for it. Instead they pay for a prison system that is 10 times more expensive than any system in Scandinavia or the Rhineland countries, they pay for the consequences of violent crime rates that are 8 times higher, they pay double the amount for health care and pay for adoption incentive programmes that don't work. I call it penny wise, pound foolish, they call it their god damn right to do with the money they earned through hard work as they damn well please.

I think the anti-government notion creates lousy governments as a self-fullfilling prophecy. As long as people don't believe a system might work, it's never going to work.

Pound Pup Legacy