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Post-Shelter Project

The Post-Shelter Project: Enhancing Community Reintegration and Support for Survivors of Domestic Violence was developed in partnership with leaders from three women’s shelter networks in three regions of Ontario with the intention of encouraging the development of more effective supports for survivors of abuse.

The goal of this study was to explore the service user experience of living in a women’s shelter in order to better understand what post-shelter life is like for women once they leave the shelter system and are living in the community. As the study progressed, it was broadened to include women who had not accessed shelters in order to better understand the localized realities of women experiencing domestic violence and their experiences of other community-based service systems.

Drawing on interviews and focus groups with 60 service providers and 104 women who had experienced abuse (50 of whom stayed in shelter), an overall picture emerged of the struggles and strengths of both the survivors and existing systems.

Findings revealed that survivors of domestic violence bear the burden of often multiple traumas, some of whom struggle with mental health and addictions. Many survivors reported being terrorized by troubled, dangerous men where an overwhelming sense of isolation emerged. The crushing impacts of poverty, classism, lack of quality affordable housing, lack of quality affordable child care, job insecurity, unemployment, being a newcomer and rural issues were commonly shared.

Next Steps: We are currently working in tandem with a group of survivors on how best to integrate survivor voices in programs and service delivery within shelter, health and social service systems.

Contact Us:

Ginette Lafrenière, Director (SIRG), Associate Dean (MSW Programs)

E: glafreniere@wlu.ca
T: 519.884.0710 x5237
Office Location: FSW 310

Rachel Yavnai, Research & Community Project Coordinator

E: ryavnai@wlu.ca
T: 519.884.0710 x5280
Office Location: FSW 206A