“Crises Shelters for Battered Women”

In a 1978 essay by Reba Deal, she discusses “wife beating” and a need for crisis shelters. Though this particular document does not directly pertain to Miami University, the need for crisis shelters and resources is linked to the wellbeing of Oxford citizens – locals and students.

Deal first reflects on 1975, when the public became aware and started to acknowledge abuse against women – “battered women.” During this time, emergency hotlines were established, and a shelter for victims of domestic abuse was started in Fairfield, Ohio. This shelter offered food, temporary housing, and peer counseling. Longterm help was also offered: staff at the shelter helped women with housing, child care services, and welfare and legal aid.

The piece discusses a specific account of a woman’s experiences with an abusive husband. Ms. Hake was “a battered woman for thirty years” until her eventual divorce. Her Since childhood, violence was a constant part of Ms. Hake’s life. Her parents had “physically violent bouts” and her in-laws were equally as violent. Ms. Hake thought this type of behavior was normal and acceptable. In addition to viewing abuse as a typical aspect of married life, Ms. Hake was deterred from divorce because of her religious beliefs and financial reasons. She opened the Butler County Women’s Crisis Shelter because she wanted to help other abused women.

Deal’s paper also covers police and legal involvement in domestic abuse cases. Because there is a waiting process for court orders, they do not offer survivors immediate help. According to Deal, police are typically “an obstruction to wives obtaining relief from a violent husband.” Due to the the newfound attention on domestic abuse in the 1970s, police departments created Family Crisis Intervention Units.

There is also a stigma surrounding domestic abuse. There is an assumption that nice people do not abuse others, and that abuse does not happen to nice people. Women are made to feel guilty for their suffering. An according to Deal, these reasons are exactly why women need crisis shelters – “a safe place.” The Butler County Women’s Crisis Center offered women a place to rest and consider their options.

To my understanding, this shelter no longer exists in its original form. Now, Women Helping Women is the primary resource for survivors of abuse in Butler and Hamilton Counties. This organization helps survivors of sexual assault, domestic violence, and stalking. I am a volunteer victim advocate for Women Helping Women, and I am grateful this organization exists. Though the name may be misleading, Women Helping Women assists people of all abilities, gender identities, and ethnicities. However, volunteers are able to locate shelters and other specific resources for survivors. That is, we can provide a female survivor with the phone numbers of women’s crisis shelters.

Monday, October 17, 2016