Domestic Violence Shelters in the US South: Philosophy Versus Practice

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In this paper, we examine qualitative data from 42 domestic violence shelters (refuges) in the U.S. Deep South, with particular attention to the contradictions and congruences between organization philosophy and practice. We find that philosophies and practices tend to diverge at many points, and that stated philosophies are often influenced by funders, community stake holders, and founding groups. Few shelters classify themselves as feminist, although many espouse feminist principles. Most say that they are dedicated to 'families,' though they rarely advise women to return to their partners. In addition, those that say that their goal is the 'safety of women and children,' often inadvertently do things to endanger them. These trends are analyzed using a critical feminist perspective, and suggestions are offered for negotiating the tensions between policy and practice.


Keywords: Domestic Violence Shelters, Services to Battered Women, Feminist Theory, Feminist Practice
Stream: Sociology, Geography
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
Paper: A paper has not yet been submitted.


Dr. Denise Donnelly

Associate Professor, Department of Sociology, Georgia State University
Atlanta, GA, USA

Denise Donnelly received her Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of Florida in 1990, followed by a Post-Doc in Family Violence Training at the University of New Hampshire's Family Research Lab. She has been employed by Georgia State University in Atlanta, GA since 1993, and is currently an Associate Professor. Dr. Donnelly is the editor/author of 2 books and over 25 journal articles and chapters. Her policy driven research interests include: services to battered women; batterer intervention; the Northern Ireland conflict and its aftermath; and sexuality and gender. She is the organizer of a Study Abroad Programme to Northern Ireland, and enjoys international travel and research.

Barbara Combs

Graduate Student, Ph.D. Programme, Department of Sociology, Georgia State University
Atlanta, GA, USA

Barbara Combs, M.A., J.D., is a graduate student in the Department of Sociology at Georgia State University.

Toshio Asai

Graduate Student, Georgia State University
Atlanta, GA, USA

Toshio Asai, M.A. is a graduate student at Georgia State University.

Ref: I08P0536