What Goes On Inside Other Battered Women's Shelters?

Charles E. Corry, Ph.D. and various contributors

© 2003-2014 Equal Justice Foundation

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Index

Introduction

Shelter operations

Shawnee, Oklahoma, director embezzles shelter funds

First Step shelter in Harrisonburg, Virginia, proves more dangerous for woman than her home

Woman nearly beaten to death while staying at Women's Resource Center in Glen White, West Virginia

One reason why the courts are backlogged in Canada

Larimer County, Colorado, women's shelter loses staff by Michael de Yoanna

Minnesota shelter for battered women director pleads guilty to embezzlement

Michigan SafeHouse director falsifies federal financial reports

Oklahoma domestic violence coalition directors charged with theft of federal funds

Black woman finds little succor in shelter

What happened when a woman went to a Phoenix, Arizona shelter

Stay at SafeSpace shelter in Stuart, Florida, proves fatal for pregnant woman

Family Life Center in Bunnell, Florida, falsifies statistics and director is violent towards ex-husband

Four charged with defrauding Parker, Arizona, domestic violence shelter of $100,000

From a source in Beaumont, Texas, we've received the following

All not serene at Heaven's Serenity House in Orange, Texas

Grandmother claims her grandchildren were sexually molested at Heaven's Serenity shelter in Orange, Texas

Fulton, Missouri domestic violence center shut down for being a total fraud

Arizona mother finds life in women's shelters unbearable

Village Voice reveals new twist for shelter of domestic violence fakers

Violence erupts at shelter for battered women in Colorado Springs, Colorado

Treated unfairly due to my disabilities in battered women's shelter

Reports from shelter workers

From another source we learn that at the shelter they work in:

Criteria for admission at one shelter we've heard from in Arizona

Former shelter director reveals why she left

Child abuse in battered women's shelters

What can be done to minimize these abuses at battered women's shelters?

Let us know what you've seen


 

Introduction

Top

As noted in the Introduction to this chapter, the safety of pregnant women and children is of fundamental interest to our society. However, all too frequently ideologues have corrupted these charitable and humanitarian instincts for their personal financial gain, to forward their own social goals, and, in some cases, to satisfy the appetites of sexual predators.

The Equal Justice Foundation and Respecting Accuracy in Domestic Abuse Reporting (RADAR) receive many reports of what is being done in shelters for battered women from residents and workers within these federal- and state-supported refuges, and from other sources.

For years, decades actually, these publicly funded programs fought hook, line, and proverbial sinker to be virtually exempt from Federal oversight, that is to have their programs monitored or audited by the government. We have long been concerned about the veil of secrecy under which these shelters operate and the likelihood of mismanagement so common with taxpayer-funded operations that are hidden from public review. While we support the need for shelters, we do not condone the practices summarized below.

While many, if not most, shelters serve humanity with compassion and justice, it is also known that many don't as articulated below.


 

Shelter operations

Shawnee, Oklahoma, director embezzles shelter funds

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In 1999, Denorvas Stevenson, former director of a woman's shelter in Shawnee, Oklahoma, was charged with eight counts of embezzlement after an audit revealed more than $56,000 in undocumented and unauthorized expenses. Stevenson was fired after Project Safe board members discovered the agency was $40,000 in debt and owed $12,000 in back payroll taxes.

First Step shelter in Harrisonburg, Virginia, proves more dangerous for woman than her home

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The First Step shelter in Harrisonburg, Virginia is set up in an old house off of Route 11, probably on Mason Street, according to our contact. She reports:

"I was at the battered women's shelter in September of 2003 for about a month. I soon discovered that I was the only woman there for protection purposes. Most of the other women were using the shelter as a halfway house. The other women had been kicked out by their spouses for drug use, and had no where else to go. I shared a room with a woman and her teenage daughter. I had two boys, a one year old, and a four year old. I toughed it out for a few weeks, and one night, a drug-addicted woman came into my room while I slept. Later I found out she'd been under the influence of drugs. She held a pocketknife to my throat and told me that if I didn't give her my phone card she'd slit my throat. She told me if I said anything to anyone, she'd come back and slit my son's throat too. I gave her my card. After that, I had to go back to my abuser."

Woman nearly beaten to death while staying at Women's Resource Center in Glen White, West Virginia

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February 15, 2002 — Legg, 35, of Mount Hope, West Virginia, was arrested after he broke into the Women's Resource Center in Glen White, West Virginia.

According to Lisa Legg, she was staying at the Women's Resource Center shelter

"...when my husband entered the grounds through an unlocked gate. The security cameras were not being monitored and he found a large metal pipe on the grounds. He broke through the glass into my room and nearly beat me to death that night. Needless to say, I have many questions about the validity of battered women's shelters and the improper training of their employees."

Police said Mr. Legg also hit several other people with the metal pipe during the attack.

One reason why the courts are backlogged in Canada

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January 13, 2003.

XXXX Xxxxxx Rd.

Burlington, Ontario

 

Chief Justice Roy McMurtry

c/o Osgoode Hall

130 Queen Street West

Toronto, Ontario

M5H 2N5

 

Dear Chief Justice McMurtry

I read an article in the Toronto Star, dated January 7, 2003, in which it was reported that you were upset about the courts being backlogged and that you were looking for answers to this problem.

As one woman who has been forcefully and unwillingly branded as a helpless "victim" of domestic violence by police and the local Crown Attorney's office, I would like to give you what my thoughts are as to why the courts are backlogged.

Early last year, it a fit of anger and frustration against my husband, I wrongly called police. I was under medication at the time and to this day still suffer from depression and severe anxiety disorder. When I get upset at my husband, my disorder causes me to get angry and to want to cause problems for him. Calling police on that occasion was my reaction that day to cause him problems. Under pressure from police to charge him with something and during a moment when my mind was not thinking clearly, I told police that I felt that husband had threatened to harm me and the children. I have seen so much in the newspapers and on the TV about husbands abusing their wives that this was the first thought that came to my mind when the police came to my home. There was absolutely no physical violence leading up to my call to police, absolutely none. At the time, however, I did not realize the implications of my actions as I was acting more out of emotion, rather than from reason.

Police officers never asked if there would have been any reason to cause me to make these allegations nor did they seem to care. No time was given for me to get my thoughts together rationally. Police just took my words as being the truth. Immediately, my husband was arrested and thrown in jail where he eventually spent six weeks in jail. After his arrest, I became even more anxious and fearful of authorities for doing something that was wrong.

Initially, I stayed at a women's shelter as I thought this was the thing to do. While in the women's shelter, I was put under tremendous pressure from shelter workers, most of who are divorced women themselves, to say even more negative things about my husband to get him in more trouble with the law. I felt pressured by shelter staff and felt compelled to follow their legal instructions. In my opinion, shelters should not be giving legal advice to woman or pressuring women to take certain legal actions. This should be left up to the lawyers. Being in a position of dependency at the shelter makes a woman feel obligated to follow the legal advice given to them by the workers. While in the shelter, both myself and my children were inundated with information about how abusive men are. I believe that exposure to domestic violence audio and visual materials in the shelter has negatively affected my children to the point where even they may now feel that men, in general, are abusive. As it turned out, the shelter was not just a place where women can go for help, but a place were women and children are told all the bad things about men and where women are encouraged to divorce their husbands and break up their families. While my children and I were at the shelter, the police had to come in and take one woman out of the facility for being abusive to the other women in front of the children. My children were exposed to more abuse in the shelter than they were ever exposed outside of it.

When I tried to admit my mistake to the Crown Attorney's office, I was basically told that I was a liar and that I had better stick to my original statement which was made while under pressure and while suffering from anxiety. I was told that women only recant their stories because their husbands are intimidating them. I was told that I would get arrested if I tried to change my story. When I tried to get my lawyer to write a letter to the Crown to explain the circumstances, my lawyer refused to follow my instructions. It was as if my lawyer was not willing to go against what he knew the Crown and the police wanted, which was to get my husband to plead guilty. My lawyer refused to return my phone calls and refused to answer my letters to his office. Yet, while my lawyer refused to follow my instructions, to my knowledge he billed Legal Aid, claiming to represent me. I wrote my own letter to the Crown's Office directly but they refused to respond.

During this whole ordeal, nobody in the Justice System wanted to help me or my children. Everyone just wanted to label me as a poor victim and my husband as an abuser. Not at any time did I get the feeling that the justice system cared about me, my children, or about justice. The feeling that I have to this day is that the only thing the system wants is to convict my husband and that they will use any means, including intimidation and removal of children, to accomplish this.

I went to the court during one of preliminary hearings to try to tell the truth but when the Crown Attorney saw me at the court, she would not even talk to me. Yet, when my husband was in a hearing, representatives of the local women's shelter had no problem getting a private meeting with the Crown to discuss my husband's case. It seems that the Crown Attorney considered what the representatives of the local woman's shelter had to say as being more important than what I, the alleged victim, had to say. Everything seemed to revolve around how to get my husband convicted and to keep him from seeing our children, no matter what the cost to myself and the children was.

My husband has been forced from his job due to the actions of the authorities who contacted his work and had him dismissed. Myself, and my four children have been forced on to the welfare system. My children cry to see their father who has always been a good father to them. The Children's Aid has threatened to take my children from me if I let the children see their father, yet he has always been a good father to them. Terrible financial and emotional harm has been done to my children, myself and my husband by the justice system.

It has been over nine months since my family's horror story with the justice system started. To this day, those in the Justice system still do not want to listen to me nor do they care about my children. It seems that the system is not willing to admit that a woman can make a mistake such as calling police out of anger. Based on my experience, it seems that criminalizing and persecuting fathers, regardless of the damage done to children, is the ultimate goal of the system. I feel that all of our family members have been victimized by the system and this is so terribly wrong and unjust.

Since this matter started, thousands of dollars in taxpayer's monies have been spent and countless hours spent on my case by police, court officials and the Crown Attorney's Office. I am the only witness to just statements made, yet the Crown Attorney presses on relentlessly to get my husband to plead guilty while intimidating me to go along with what they want. How can he plead guilty when he is not? I would not expect him or want him to plead guilty for an alleged crime he did not do. What kind of justice would that be?

There appears to be a systemic bias against fathers by the police and the Crown Attorney's Office in the area of domestic violence to the point where justice is being purposely and maliciously disregarded. I have a young son and it worries me to think of what he might face in the justice system when he gets older. I am appalled at what I have seen is going on with justice in this province and how domestic violence is being used to destroy families. Based on just a few words said in anger, the justice system has gone on a witch hunt against my husband and in the process caused terrible harm to my entire family.

So getting back on the topic of the backlog in the court system, just put a stop to the persecuting and criminalizing of fathers and ensure that the principles of equality and fundamental justice are upheld by those working in the system and I am sure that you will see a noticeable drop in the court system caseload. Justice, not man-hating ideology, must prevail in our justice system.

Yours truly

Nezha Saad

Larimer County, Colorado, women's shelter loses staff by Michael de Yoanna

Top

© 2004 The Coloradoan

Service intact after 7 of 16 leave amid strife

January 22, 2004 Crossroads Safehouse says quality services still are being provided to victims of domestic violence despite the resignation of seven of 16 employees, including Melissa Woodward, the executive director.

While the stressful but necessary work of the shelter goes on, it is unclear exactly what led most of them to quit January 2, 2004.

"I'm sad to have to leave such a vital organization," Woodward said, declining to explain what happened. "I can't speak further," she said.

Several employees said they wanted the Coloradoan to know more but ultimately decided against speaking out. They are as guarded as Woodward when asked what prompted their resignations.

"It was a total surprise to everyone, what happened," said LuAnn Kainer, a bilingual children's advocate who was one of two staff members to quit after the board accepted resignations from five co-workers.

"We were like a family there, so it was traumatic," Kainer said.

Nobody had negative things to say about the shelter and its difficult mission.

In 2003, the safehouse provided the sufferers of domestic violence 6,940 nights of housing, fielded 5,752 support or crisis calls and provided myriad other services, such as bilingual education. [Only for women as best the EJF can determine.]

The safehouse's interim director, Lynda Nielsen, a longtime Larimer County nonprofit worker, began work at the shelter when Woodward's resignation became effective January 2 nd , Field said.

Nielsen, a former member of the Loveland City Council, said she already has hired three new employees at the safehouse and is preparing to hire four more. She is filling short-term gaps by using about 18 part-time workers willing to work limited shifts.

Tackling day-to-day issues in the wake of a dispute in which she wasn't involved is rough considering the safehouse's doors are always open, Nielsen said. "Women and children are trying to pull their lives back together," she said. "They don't have time to wait for us."

Members of the safehouse board admit there was a controversy with the staff but refuse to elaborate.

Former employees "didn't want to acknowledge, frankly, the necessity of being governed by a board," said Diane Gross, the board's president.

Board Vice President Julie Field said a consultant was hired to explore employee issues and workers were allowed to air their grievances to the board.

"I'm perplexed, because we all have the same mission, and we all have the same goal, and we all have the same desire to provide excellent service," she said. The resignations "sadden me in a profound way."

United Way of Larimer County, a primary funder of the safehouse, is aware of a controversy but said it wouldn't affect funding, said Executive Director Gordon Thibedeau.

"They have our full support," Thibedeau said. "We look at this as an internal issue that does not affect services being provided."

He doubts the disagreement had anything to do with Woodward's performance, characterizing her as "extremely competent" and "capable."

Field had similar praise. "I think she brought many, many good things to the organization."

"At least half" of the area's nonprofits have seen executive directors come and go in the last five years, Thibedeau added. And when directors go, employees often follow, he said. "Sometimes, because of the low pay and high expectations, it puts on a lot of stress, so turnover is high."

But Valerie Howley, one of the employees who resigned, said low pay and high expectations "had nothing to do with it."

Four employees who signed a letter of resignation detailing problems with the board declined to say more. The Coloradoan requested the letter from the safehouse's board of directors but was denied.

Pam Carrington, who works for a mortgage company, joined the board of directors in November.

"I haven't been involved in a lot of the background," she said. "What I know is they turned in their letters of resignation, and we accepted them...We wouldn't do that without making sure services would be provided."

Minnesota shelter for battered women director pleads guilty to embezzlement

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In 2006, Paulette Wang, former treasurer of Asian Women United in Minnesota, pled guilty to embezzling $265,000 from her domestic violence organization.

Michigan SafeHouse director falsifies federal financial reports

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In June 2006, SafeHouse of Michigan was ordered to repay $483,000 in federal funds because services it had billed for could not be verified. The order followed the resignation of executive director Susan McGee, who admitted that she had falsified federal financial reports to cover up delinquent tax payments.

Oklahoma domestic violence coalition directors charged with theft of federal funds

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Cindy Lou Shores, Wenona Barnett, and Angela Camp of Ponca City, Oklahoma, have been charged with conspiracy and theft of federal funds. They face possible sentences of 15 years in prison after the Department of Justice reported to Congress in 2007:

"In September 2002, the Office on Violence Against Women (OVW) awarded a $299,815 grant to the South Central Region Tribal Nations and Friends Domestic Violence Coalition to assist in its efforts to support victims of domestic violence. However, our investigation determined that the executive director of the Coalition stole over $100,000 in grant funds, and two board members of the Coalition stole approximately $25,000 and $37,000, respectively. Judicial proceedings continue."

Black woman finds little succor in shelter

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August 14, 2007 — I read the comments on this web site and I was shocked to find that I had the same experiences that were so traumatic.

Everything was allowed to come into the shelter and it added to the traumatic experiences that I already came in there with, stalking, harassment, false imprisonment, a true domestic violence victim.

The staff was inexperienced and vicious and I was targeted because I was black and did not fit the "norm" for what entered the shelter. I did not realize that they allowed drug users, unfit mothers, and anything that they could in. I had gone to this shelter four years prior for assistance and was turned away. I came back because the abuse continued for four years.

The mental health system was the weapon of choice for my abuser and my life has been destroyed. I am fighting to get it back and thought this would be a place of refuge to get help and solace. It was the farthest thing from that. Unfit mothers, mothers that had lost their children, drug users that were using drugs on the premises, homeless women, everything.

I was targeted and victimized in the shelter to the point that I could not take it. I was moved seven times in a three week period. Racism was prevalent and accepted. I was accused of things that I did not do, my issues were not addressed at all. They were not equipped to help me and I was accused by one of the staff members of still caring about my ex husband who chose, after fifteen years of divorce, to reappear and destroy my life.

Nothing was confidential and what I discussed with staff was being discussed with clients. It was horrible and so traumatizing. After five years of severe abuse, I finally think that I am going to a place for safety and it just added to the stress that I came there with.

My belongings were gone through and my intelligence was insulted when they approached me with issues that I never divulged to them but was in documents that I brought with me to the shelter.

On the last day that I was there, one of the unfit mothers went to a staff member and told her that I had popped a bag of popcorn and would not give her child any. I could not believe that I was approached, but I was. There were ten bags in a box and I was asked if the popcorn that I popped was my personal popcorn, as if I was required to give someone's child something that I prepared for myself while their mother was sitting there doing nothing. It was overwhelming that I was even approached.

The system has failed the women that are really being abused.

What happened when a woman went to a Phoenix, Arizona shelter

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I work here in the Phoenix area through a program that has placed several women in local shelters — reluctantly! I have one woman in particular recently, that was in a shelter program, with her son. She met once with her "caseworker" at the initial intake. After being in the program for a month, was told she did not meet the "requirements" and was given a deadline to leave. No one helped her exit out, or helped with transitional housing. No assistance was offered. She appealed, twice. No one spoke with her, just let her know that the decision was final. I tried speaking/making an appointment with the Director, only to be called by his secretary to inform me that "their policy was not to take interviews." End of story — how sad is that?

Stay at SafeSpace shelter in Stuart, Florida, proves fatal for pregnant woman

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Marilyn Hooks, 25, and Milaus Almore, 8 weeks pregnant, were residents in the SafeSpace shelter in Stuart, Florida. On October 31, 2007, the women fell into an argument. Hooks pulled out a knife and fatally stabbed Almore. Ms. Hooks was later charged with second-degree murder.

Before the incident, Hooks had made death threats to a staff member and resident, but the shelter manager ignored staff recommendations to evict the woman.

Only afterwards was the manager terminated from her position.

Family Life Center in Bunnell, Florida, falsifies statistics and director is violent towards ex-husband

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After a six-hour hearing William Christen was awarded a permanent restraining order against the executive director of Family Life Center. He reports they were married for three years and it was a "volatile" marriage from the start. In June, 2006, they were in an argument and she threw something at him in front of a witness. She left and he filed a police report. After she made the usual false allegations William was granted the restraining order and, eventually, a divorce that has led to financial disaster for him.

It is reported that the Family Life Center uses homeless women to boost their statistics as to the number of "battered" women they help. On their telephone log any call, no matter what the purpose, is logged as a "victim" call. Grant money and shelter credit cards have apparently been used for personal use.

Four charged with defrauding Parker, Arizona, domestic violence shelter of $100,000

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© 2009 by Deborah Stocks, ABC15.com

July 24, 2009 — The Arizona Attorney General's Office said Friday that four people accused of defrauding a northern Arizona crisis shelter have been arrested, three of them in North Carolina.

The suspects allegedly defrauded the Colorado River Regional Crisis Shelter in Parker of nearly $100,000.

Suzanne Foss, 48, Terry Foss, 49, Kristopher Foss, 27, and Alicia Torres, 25, are accused of theft, fraudulent schemes and artifices, conspiracy and conducting an illegal enterprise. All four defendants are from Parker.

The alleged fraud took place between 2004 and 2007,when Suzanne Foss, and later Alicia Torres, served as Executive Director for the Crisis Shelter.

Terry and Kristopher Foss, Suzanne Foss's husband and son, were also employed at the shelter during this period. They are believed to have also been involved in the defrauding of the shelter but to a lesser degree, Goddard said.

The indictment claims that Suzanne Foss defrauded the Crisis Shelter out of nearly $100,000 by:

• Receiving overtime and vacation time she wasn't entitled to receive.

• Receiving reimbursements for medical insurance coverage that was already provided by shelter.

• Receiving payments from federal grant funds for shelter-related services not rendered.

• Receiving reimbursement for items that were either never purchased or were taken for personal use.

• Paying other involved people for services not performed.

• Taking items donated to shelter for personal use and allowing other employees to do the same.

Suzanne and Terry Foss are also accused of fraudulently collecting unemployment compensation benefits by claiming to have been laid off from the Crisis Shelter when in fact they had both resigned, according to the Attorney General.

Goddard said the Colorado River Regional Crisis Shelter is the only domestic violence shelter serving La Paz County.

The Fosses were arrested Wednesday.

From a source in Beaumont, Texas, we've received the following

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To whom it may concern,

I have been trying to file complaints for myself and on behalf of my daughter, who was four and a half years when the incidents happened, against some homeless shelters who are run by people who are from an area that is known for families of racketeering. I recently read your website about the undercover shelter abuse investigation by the True Equality Network, of publicly funded government program shelters, uncovering shelter staff and supporting law enforcement agencies use of threats and intimidation, and financial and social control, to abuse shelter residents.

The abuse was almost exactly the same as I and my child experienced, including attempts to make us join operating prostitution services, drug dealing, and sexual servitude of the shelter clients to provide sexual favors to law enforcement officers in exchange for testimony in court (plus males in the area), confiscating food stamps or food purchased by mothers for their children, pooling of the grant monies, "new resident lock in" where new residents are not allowed to leave the facility for work or school, often causing the women to lose their jobs, exposed to gay harassment from "lesbian experimentation" called "emotional therapy," and the abuses are often categorized as "protection," "support," or "intervention."

I was wondering if your group can add these shelters to your investigation list or that you can refer the cases to someone who can look into them. [They are added here and have been forwarded to True Equality Network] The names of the shelters, dates we were there, and locations are:

• Nov. 2000 - Port Cities Rescue Mission, 530 Waco Ave, Port Arthur, TX

• Nov. 2000 - Maxi Gospel Tabernacle Church /Welcome House Shelter, 24292 Crowley-Eunice Highway, Crowley, LA

• Nov. 2000 - Women's Shelter, Perry (Abbeville), LA

• Nov. 2000 - Carol's House Pentecostal Shelter, 126 Kirkman St., Lake Charles, LA

• Nov. 2000 - Potter's House Emergency Shelter, 3740 Kirkman St., lake Charles, LA

All not serene at Heaven's Serenity House in Orange, Texas

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Mike Louviere, The Record Newspapers

Area grandmother claims grandchildren sexually molested at Serenity House

July 14, 2008 — An area grandmother says her grandchildren were sexually assaulted at Heaven's Serenity House, 1207 W. Park Ave. in Orange, Texas.

Beth Louviere reports her three grandchildren aged 3, 4, and 6 were molested by an underage person at the shelter.

"There have been three counts filed with the Orange County District Attorney's Office," according to Louviere. "The papers were taken there by Sgt. Davis of the Orange Police Department Friday and I am told the office reviewed them Monday."

The children and their mother, Emily Cook, were living at the shelter along with William Orval "B.J." Cook, Emily's husband, when the incident occurred, Louviere said.

Emily Cook and the children have since moved out of the shelter. William Cook remains there, Louviere said.

Heaven's Serenity House is listed with nonprofit status as a temporary shelter for the homeless. It receives frequent charitable donations from area businesses.

Louviere alleges the shelter is being used as a halfway house for paroled drug offenders and other parolees, and not a shelter for the homeless.

"I do not believe this shelter is being run as a safe place to bring children and I would like for someone to look into what is really happening there," she said. "I am doing everything I can do to keep my grandchildren out of that place."

Grandmother claims her grandchildren were sexually molested at Heaven's Serenity shelter in Orange, Texas

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KBMT12.com

July 17, 2008 — An Orange area woman claims her three young grandchildren were molested during the family's stay at a local homeless shelter.

Brian Burns has more on the shocking allegations.

Unidentified grandmother "It makes me sick. It really does. Because I fought so hard to save them from the homeless shelter. In the end a year later it comes out they were not only molested but it had been going on."

We are not showing the face of this woman to protect the identity of her grand children.

She claims her three grandchildren, who are 3, 4 and 7 years old were molested by a juvenile while the family spent 8 months at the Heaven's Serenity Homeless shelter starting last summer.

The allegations came about after the three children were interviewed by counselors at the Garth House in Beaumont.

The grandmother says the mother of the three has admitted to knowing about the abuse. "The mother knew about it. And no one stopped it. No one saved them."

Police have started a criminal investigation based on the Garth House interviews.

A copy of the police report filed by the investigating officer who has turned over the interviews to the district attorney and child protective services [was made available to Brian Burns.]

The grandmother says she arranged for the Garth House interviews because of problems exhibited by the children. "Because of behavior problems that I have been having with them. And I told the mother, 'something has happened to these children.' And she came out about the molestation."

While the phone number listed for the Heaven Serenity shelter is out of service, we did attempt to reach the owner in person... But our knocking went unanswered.

"I want to see justice for my grandchildren. That's what I want."

Whether or not charges are filed is now up to the Orange district attorney.

This woman tells us it's not just her grand children that are at stake. "There are children still in there that I'm very concerned about. Very concerned about them."

Child Protective Services tells KBMT 12 News an investigation was started this week into the sexual assault allegations.

Fulton, Missouri domestic violence center shut down for being a total fraud

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© 2010 by Aimee Levitt, River Front Times

July 29, 2010 —A Fulton-based resource center for battered women has been ordered by the state to shut down all operations. This shouldn't be terribly difficult since the Battered Mother's Resource Fund (BMRF) never actually did anything anyway.

Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster said in a news release that the BMRF, which is owned by Phillip Baney, solicited donations to help victims of domestic violence, but never actually implemented any of the programs it advertised, including community outreach seminars, a national database of shelters and other organizations that provided assistance to battered women and children, a Mother's Assistance Fund and a ranch for kids who had been harmed by domestic violence.

"Most heart wrenching is that BMRF may have prevented domestic violence victims from reaching out for legitimate assistance by claiming that most domestic violence shelters separate mothers from their children," Koster said in the press release. "This is not true and it is a dangerous statement that could keep a domestic violence victim from seeking assistance for fear of losing her children. Every domestic violence shelter in Missouri accepts children."

BMFR's crisis hotline was not a total fraud, though it did not operate 24 hours as advertised, and the toll-free number shared a telephone line with Baney's home phone and Internet connection. It's staffed sporadically by Baney, his wife and a neighbor, none of whom have any training or experience in helping domestic violence victims.

Koster ordered BMFR to shut down its website and stop soliciting donations immediately. Baney has until October 31 to dissolve BMFR as a corporate entity.

BMFR's official domain name, www.batteredmothers.org, expired July 9, but it still maintains a site on MySpace.

Arizona mother finds life in women's shelters unbearable

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April 4, 2011 — I appreciated what you put on the internet, because I too had extremely shocking things happen to me and other women I knew.

I was abused by my brother I even had him arrested and there was a court date, but it was dropped because the very next day he had a stroke. I stayed at a popular women's abuse shelter in Phoenix, Arizona. There I thought everything was wonderful as at first they treated us very nice and gentle just what we needed. But then they started to kind of investigate us.

There was a woman there who was pregnant and they kicked her out three times for fighting but each time two days later they would let her in no questions asked. They had a lot of women who were not American citizens there and of course they had attorneys to try to get their green cards. They gave them false hopes. They said they could only get the cards if they were molested as children. Which was the case, but they told her she had to "make it there three months before they would take her case." Three days before her three months were up they kicked her out for absolutely no reason!!!

There was a woman there that had two huge dogs that would go potty everywhere, but the woman said they were there because her therapist said it would be best for their families recovery. She seemed a little bit "off." One night I was getting cereal and she started yelling at me. I was taken back and I just dropped everything and ran to my room and started to cry. She said something to the fact that Jesus was going to kill me and he didn't love me.

I had just gotten out of a cult-like religion and it really tore me apart to hear that. So, while in my room crying one of the staff members who was there asked what happened and when I told her she said it was okay because it wasn't my fault. The next morning they threw us out without any warning. And I was doing everything they said. Going to meetings, doing my chores, children in school, looking for a job-every day! And we had by noon to leave. But they wouldn't tell me why! They threw our things in a room marked it with our names.

I at least had the children eat breakfast that day and a woman sat next to me and she seemed skittish. But she told me that they kick everyone out before the three months is up, because they don't want to follow through on anything they promised. Like helping us get into a government-funded apartment, or finding us a job, or therapists, etc.

When we left we had nowhere to go, so they gave us another number of the New Life Center out in Goodyear. Arizona, which was in the newspaper and everything! The government funded that as well. It was clean and nice, but they had nothing to help us with! We were just supposed to clean our rooms once a week and go to meetings.

There were things going on there like lesbians sharing rooms together, etc., but it wasn't any of my business. But they straight out told me that in three months that was the longest I could stay and most of the women have to go back to their abusers because they have nowhere else to go!

I looked for a job again religiously! But by this time the economy was so bad there was nothing! On the news they said in Arizona there was 1,000 to one job!

One day I bought this pregnant woman a blanket from a garage sale and it came up missing. We asked everyone about it even the staff members and they all said they didn't see it! Then after about two days I saw it in their things! They gave it back and I gave them the benefit of the doubt thinking they must have put it in with their laundry.

A few days later my daughters jacket came up missing. Again I asked everyone even staff members if they had seen it. They said no. About two weeks later I came up for toothpaste and the staff member came out of the break room and there was my daughters jacket on the back of her chair in the break room. They returned it.

Then my laundry basket came up missing. I thought someone from the grounds stole it. A few mornings later they were serving their bread in it!!! They gave it back again!!!

The pregnant woman that I knew had nothing for the arrival of her baby. So, I went by a garage sale and they had practically new baby clothes and blankets, etc....So, I bought it all for $20. Then about two days later EVERYTHING was gone! Then she recognized a woman had her baby in the same outfit and the staff looked in her room and she had everything! She refused to give it back. The pregnant woman called the police because that was all she had and her baby was due to be born any day!

So, the police officer asked if I was the one who bought her those things and I said yes. After he left the staff kicked me and my kids out because they said I revealed confidential matters to someone else! But I had no choice, it was a police officer!

But they kicked us out anyway and they wouldn't even let us get any of our stuff. We had to make an appointment! So, we came back to get our stuff and half of it was gone! They took our DVD's our DVD player, my father's wedding ring, my tanzanite ring, everything!!! Then they threw our stuff out in garbage bags onto the side walk!

We had no where to go again and I did not want to go back to my mother's where my abusive brother lived. So, we went to another shelter in Phoenix. This one was Chrysalis Shelter For Victims of Domestic Violence I think. Anyway they were awful!

They kept telling me that if I went to their meetings I had the income to qualify for their apartments that were next door. So I went to 8 meetings a week. Again, I did my chores, etc., and followed all the rules!

There was this one woman who had gotten to get an apartment on the grounds and she was going to college and had a job, etc. She was up for the apartments off the grounds next door in two days and they kicked her out because her friend would sit outside her door to visit while she did her homework and they said, "She was creating a night club type setting."

And when it came time for me they kicked me out too!

There was a woman there who started a fight with my daughter and then my son, but they didn't do anything because they didn't want to ruin any chance we had of getting an apartment. Then she started following me and saying things to me and I just ignored her and then I told a staff member. So, they met with her and then me and asked me how I could have handled the situation better. I told them that I thought I did! I walked away, didn't say anything, and told a staff member.

Five minutes later they came to my room and said, "I'm sorry but your answers were just not what we were looking for." Whatever that meant! It was going on 9:00 PM and they literally threw our things in the street! People came out and were looking and asking us what was going on, etc. It was very embarrassing.

Then three men came up to me and said we could stay in their room because they often kick women and children out on the street and they offer them a place for a while! We stayed the night there because we had no where else to go.

So, I had to move back to my mother's and the women's shelters did not help at all! They had empty promises! And they made my situation worse. Women have no choice but to go back to their abusive mates! The shelters are a waste of government money and a joke.

There are no therapists to speak of! They will not let anyone in those apartments no matter what! They have empty ones on the grounds and off the grounds that just sit empty! Last I heard they were getting money from the government to build a thrift store for only battered women. They had one down the street but they didn't like the fact that just everyone could go there! So, they are building a huge building right next door to their empty apartments!

They do not offer any help. In fact their meetings just repeat themselves over and over again! There is no change of information. It's the same thing, word for word, and you have to go to them every three days.

I wanted to get away from my abusive situation more then anything and they just led me back again like they do so many other women. They get volunteers and companies to offer free things but for what if we can't change our lives or our environment.

What good are these donations? They are no good. They really don't have the desire to help anyone. We abided by all their rules, even my kids, and sucked up any pride we had and here we are again.

This is not where i want to be or my children but we have no where to go and no one to help us. We are desperate, but we dare not go back to those women shelters because they just make you go through all these motions and you do it all and you still do not pass go or collect $200. I even had to take a budgeting money class and sign up for a woman's organization. I jumped through all the hoops and it was just disappointment after disappointment.

They do not help and they know they can't but they don't tell you that. They just play games with women who are living tragic lives and they don't even have the desire to help. Some time later I saw a staff member and she knew who I was and she didn't even say hello. What is that when they won't even greet you on the street? Is that care? Is that compassion? The government needs to wake up and stop the charades! They don't help anyone!

Village Voice reveals new twist for shelter of domestic violence fakers

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© Elizabeth Dwoskin, The Village Voice

March 9, 2011 — Latonya Malone, 26, worked as a security guard at Kirby Forensic Psychiatric Center in Manhattan. A state employee since 2002, she earned a $35,000-a-year salary, so in 2007 she applied for a Section 8 apartment. Victims of domestic violence can point to their dire situations to get Section 8 subsidies, for which there's a huge waiting list. In support of her application, she included copies of an order of protection issued by the Bronx County Criminal Court and a domestic-violence incident report issued by the New York Police Department. According to Malone's paperwork, "John Brown had beaten her."

It turned out that "John Brown" was fictitious and that both the order of protection and the domestic-violence incident report had been forged, according to prosecutors. Last October, Malone admitted to investigators that she had paid $500 to a woman named Cynthia who was selling Section 8 paperwork.

In October 2010, Malone was charged with grand larceny. She allegedly stole $14,000 worth of subsidies. Malone has pled not guilty, and the case is pending.

Over the past year, six women have been arrested for allegedly falsely claiming to be victims of domestic violence in order to obtain public housing or Section 8 housing vouchers. In another case, Chevelle Richardson filled out an application for her 20-year-old daughter, Chandera, that included not only a fabricated domestic-violence incident report and a phony order of protection but also a forged letter from the domestic-violence shelter organization Safe Horizon.

As the government cuts sharply back on its subsidized-housing programs, there may be greater incentive for people to falsify complaints. Because of long waiting lists and budget cuts in the program, the only people who are now permitted to apply for Section 8 subsidies are victims of domestic violence, youngsters who become too old to stay in foster care, and people in witness-protection programs. It's a crisis for people who would legitimately qualify for public housing: Officials say there are currently 130,000 people on the waiting list.

Rose Gill Hearn, commissioner of [New York] city's Department of Investigation, says she finds the domestic-violence fakers to be especially repugnant: "I mean, there are real victims of domestic violence out there," she tells the Voice.

Violence erupts at shelter for battered women in Colorado Springs, Colorado

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Fox21 News

Colorado Springs woman arrested after assaulting police officer at TESSA

February 12, 2014 —Colorado Springs police have arrested 37-year-old Alecia Zaher on charges of second -degree assault on a peace officer.

Officers responded to an 8:45 PM call of a disturbance involving an intoxicated woman at TESSA on 435 Gold Pass Heights off Highway 115.

Police said a female officer tried to handcuff Zaher when she resisted and became combative. After fighting to get her under control, the officer deployed her Taser. An additional officer arrived to help with the arrest.

The female officer sustained minor injuries from the assault and was treated and released from the hospital.

Alecia Zaher was also treated for injuries. She was later transported to the county jail and booked on felony charges of second -degree assault on a peace officer.

Treated unfairly due to my disabilities in battered women's shelter

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On Mar 11, 2014 the Equal Justice Foundation received the following testimonial.
Formatting and some punctuation errors were corrected by the EJF then reviewed by the author:

Hello my name is [withheld]. I am currently located at a women's shelter in La Grange, Illinois, called the Pillars/Constance Morris house. When I done my intake on the phone I thought me and my children would be safe and treated with respect here.

We ran from Missouri because of the abuse from my husband and him trying to kill me. But coming into this shelter has been a total nightmare I have witnessed staff verbally abusing residents and refusing to help the residents with resources to help us start a new life.

We are told we can only use sugar for coffee and not cereal. Our children are not allowed to use the play room and there is nothing for them to do. Also we are constantly threatened to be written up for anything. We cannot help each other with our chores.

We feel like we are being abused here and we are still with our abusers. Myself, when I called for my intake I let them know I was disabled. But when me and my children came here some staff have been rude and due to the amount of cleaning and going up and down 3 flights of stairs my condition has gotten so bad I had to go the hospital after pleading with staff to lighten my chores so I would not be in so much pain. Staff wouldn't believe me and acted like they didn't care even after seeing the nurse who was very careless about helping me to do easier chores and have access to the elevator so I would not be in so much pain.

I even contacted my doctor who called the shelter to let them know what I could and could not do. I was later called in the office and told that this facility is not handicap accessible and I would have to find somewhere else for my kids to go. Because in order to be in their program I have to be able to do more chores than the dishes and wipe tables which my primary care physician called them and told them. Heavy duty cleaning is what I have to be able to do to stay here in this program.

I don't know anyone here in Illinois but a few friends. I feel so used and violated. They tell us they have no funding and cannot provide transportation for us ladies. We have no Internet access to look for jobs and houses.

The food is issued out to us and our children and if we can eat it. If we are just hungry we get wrote up if we cook after a certain time.

I ran out of my medicine and another resident took me to get my meds and we were 11 minutes late and got yelled at. Even had to sign a warning paper but the lady who tried to help me was wrote up.

They will not provide us with a resource list to find help in the community to get clothes and bus passes. One staff was too lazy to even get me and others a glass of water when we take our meds.

I brought up a few of these issues to the supervisor only to be told a grievance has to be written but will not be dealt with until the resident leaves the shelter.

Me and my children are going to be homeless because I can't perform the chores and they can't accommodate my needs as a handicap person. The nurse lied on me and I refused to do an assessment when I was in so much pain from doing so many chores and walking 3 flights of stairs I was asking for lighter chores and to use the elevator. I had my doctor call to verify my condition and let them know what I could and could not do. I was still made to take the stairs and it resulted in me having to go to the hospital that same day. I suffer from PTSD, major depressive disorder, carpal tunnel syndrome, degenerative disc disease, and fibromyalgia.

I was better off with my abuser, sorry to say. Someone please help us.


 

Reports from shelter workers

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The following information is presented anonymously in order to protect our sources from virtually certain retribution.

One woman, who worked as a resident director of a woman's abuse shelter for three years, states that "During the entire time, I saw only one woman who had been so badly beaten that you could truly identify her as a victim."

She went on to say that:

• Too many other women came simply to use the shelter as a free pad while they went back to high school to obtain diplomas that they had been too lazy to work for while regular students.

• Others came for time to dry out from drug or alcohol abuse.

• After hours, some of these women would sneak men into their rooms — the same men who had supposedly abused them.

From another source we learn that at the shelter they work in:

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• The reason there is a waiting list is because the women are allowed to stay for two years. However, if they are not working they have to be going to school.

• Some elderly women are there because their daughters are abusing them at home and they have no place else to go.

• Shelter is used for "hiding out."

• Statistical information about domestic violence given out by the shelter is not accurate.

• Most of the women I work with do not speak English and do not contribute financially to their children.They are totally subsidized by the federal and state governments.

• We have removed women for drugs, pornography, sexual harassment of other women, and rule violations.

• Some women get pregnant while in the shelter.

• Some women are simply homeless, often as a result of drug or alcohol abuse or mental disorders.

• Racial quotas must be met to satisfy funding agencies.

• Illegal immigrants and their children are frequently admitted, often apparently to meet racial quotas.

• No financial means or needs tests are applied.

• The same woman may return to the shelter multiple times.

• The woman may be the abuser, and may even admit to that, but still be allowed to stay in the shelter.

• Some of the women are on probation for assault.

• Some women in the shelter are fugitives from the law.

• Our shelter admitted a woman who claimed she had been abused and had been in the shelter before. The woman was to be evicted because of a rule violation and the woman confessed to shelter staff that she had, in fact, been the abuser. She was just using the shelter for a place to stay.

• Recently, we admitted a woman and her daughter. After a few days another client came to me and said she was afraid of the woman. I asked why? She said the woman dumped out her purse and showed this client a bunch of cosmetics that she claimed to have stolen from a store. I directed this client to another staff member and, after talking with other staff, I found out that this woman had just been in Mexico (she was Caucasian) and was not there because of abuse. It was suspected that she was running from the law. A few days later I learned that she was no longer in our care and had left with her daughter.

• The vast majority of the women are there simply because they cannot care for themselves or their children. They have severe depression or psychological problems and the shelter is a warehouse in lieu of proper psychiatric care. Instead the shelter workers take care of them, giving them clothes, three meals a day, a room, free day care, bus tickets, tooth paste, toothbrushes, feminine products...the list goes on. But they are "victims" so they shouldn't have to learn to handle life's daily challenges on their own.

• There is another reason some women like it in the shelters: No financial accountability for their kids. It is all dad's fault. They all seem to be able to afford cigarettes though.

Criteria for admission at one shelter we've heard from in Arizona

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When a woman calls seeking shelter she has to meet two criteria in order to be accepted.

1. Clean and sober for the last 30 days.

2. Most recent abuse has to be within the last 30 days.

If these criteria are met and space is available they are admitted.

Are the woman's stories verified? No, the shelter simply takes the woman's word for it. In some cases there is a police report but even that often doesn't give the truth.

Note that abuse and violence are not among the criteria for admission, at least at this shelter.

Former shelter director reveals why she left

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Originally published by RADAR

Abuse shelters surround themselves in a shroud of secrecy. On March 10, 2007 RADAR staff interviewed a former abuse shelter director to learn what goes on behind closed doors. The woman requested anonymity because she was fearful of the consequences of disclosing her identity:

I worked at an abuse shelter located in the mid-Atlantic area for over 10 years. I first worked as a counselor and was eventually promoted to the position of shelter director. Our shelter had 8 rooms, with a capacity of up to 30 women and children.

Our shelter received funding from a variety of private and government sources at the federal, state, and local levels. A large share of our budget came from the state Child and Protective Services program to pay for abused children and mothers who resided at our facility.

Our shelter provided a broad range of services, including shelter residency for up to 2 months, 3 meals a day, counseling, advocacy, and transportation to arrange for local services. When necessary, we connected our residents with nearby welfare, immigration, and pro bono legal services. And we provided transitional services for former residents. Counseling was based on Lenore Walker's battered woman syndrome and the Duluth model's power and control wheel.

The shelter did not provide services to male victims of domestic violence, even when the men had suffered physical abuse similar to what women had experienced. Instead the men were referred to a local police station to request a restraining order.

Our staff consisted of about 30 persons, who did administration, counseling, transportation, child care, and other activities. We had a similar number of volunteers, who were generally women with previous histories of abuse. The volunteers were sometimes more of a problem than they were worth because they were still dealing with their own personal issues. Even though the volunteers were not paid anything, the shelter received funding for their services.

Most persons think of women in an abuse shelter as victims of severe physical abuse, bloodied and broken. In our shelter, however, only about one in 10 women had experienced any kind of physical injury. A similarly small number had been threatened with any physical harm, although they may have been involved in a previous incident of physical abuse.

So the great majority of women were there because they claimed to have been subjected to verbal or psychological abuse. We did not verify the claims of new residents — if the woman answered the questions correctly, we basically believed what she said. There is no question that some women, many of whom were on welfare, were gaming the system to benefit from the many services our shelter provided.

When I first started working at the shelter, the staff was held accountable to professional standards and services were regularly audited. We shared a feeling of altruism, of helping needy victims. But over the years, I saw a big change.

The shelter became more ideologically oriented. We began to sponsor workshops and training on lesbian issues. Shelter residents who were pregnant were advised of the difficulties of raising a child alone, and were encouraged to get an abortion. In order to service illegal immigrants, we stopped requesting any form of personal identification. But then you began to wonder who you are really dealing with.

Around the same time, the number of staff increased and employee benefits expanded. I once calculated that the average staff member was away from work 60 days out of the year — 5 weeks on vacation, plus holidays and sick days. After a while it became impossible to have a cohesive staff.

In the end, we would refer the women to other programs, and they would refer clients to us. It became a self-serving numbers game.

The staff became less accountable in their work and began to see their job more as an entitlement. The shelter lost its grass roots appeal and began to feel like an employment center. There was little professionalism or accountability.

That's when I resigned my position as shelter director.


 

Child abuse in battered women's shelters

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Far too frequently the victims of "battering" in these shelters are children and the perpetrators are their mothers. The following examples have been reported to us:

• There is a lot of child neglect that is not reported simply because the mothers are classified as "victims." I have also seen a couple of incidents of more serious child abuse.

• Some of the women in the shelter are on probation for child abuse.

• I went into work today at the shelter and was informed that one of our clients had been arrested. Here's why: Two days ago the woman came over to the child care unit and asked an adolescent boy to come with her because she had his birthday present. It was, in fact, his birthday. Anyway, she cornered him and, because he was 13-years-old, she gave him 13 spankings...with her fists.

The boy later complained of pain and was sent to the hospital. The doctors confirmed some internal injuries and later his mom told me that she was pressing charges. I spoke to the victim and he said he told her to stop but she wouldn't, not until he had gotten his 13. It gets better.

I spoke to the woman who wrote up the intake on this abusive woman and it turns out that during the intake the woman admitted that she was indeed on probation for asault.She did not disclose why but later other workers said she cut her son with a knife. Furthermore, this woman had not been abused. She was homeless with nowhere to go. I asked the intake clerk why she let her in and she said, "I was feeling nice that day."

• There was a woman who was a client in our shelter about three months ago. She had a little boy. We found bruises in the form of hand prints on his legs and ankles. One of my co-workers at the time also observed her being very rough with her son. This was documented. Our director made my co-worker call Child Protective Services (CPS). CPS took the information but didn't send anyone out to investigate. About two days later the woman took off with her son. No one knows where she went or how her child is faring.

• A young female came to me the other day while I was in childcare and she said her mom got mad at her and pulled her by the hair.I believe this girl because I spoke with her mom the other day and she had just returned from court and she was happy. I asked her why and she said, "The charges were dropped." I asked, " What charges?" Realizing that I didn't know what she was talking about she said, "The charges against me were dropped, he didn't show up." She was referring to her husband. I said, "What do you mean? What charges did he file?" She said, rather vaguely, "Oh, abuse." I said, "You mean you hit him." She said, matter of factly, "Oh, I cut him up."


 

What can be done to minimize these abuses at battered women's shelters?

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An intake clerk suggested that the police should bring victims to the shelters. That way, when there is a genuine case of domestic violence, the shelter would get a police report and a lot of other facts that would enable them to help real DV clients and cut down on all the riff raff that now get in. That would help prevent the shelters having to turn real DV clients away. That approach would also reduce the cost of operating these shelters.

With the cooperation of the police, screen women applying for admission for previous or current criminal records. Erin Pizzey has repeatedly pointed out that "...it is essential to understand the differentiation between our use of the words battered and violence-prone. For us, a battered person is the innocent victim of another person's violence; a violence-prone person is the victim of their own addiction to violence."

Make some effort to verify the woman is actually abused and not just using the shelter as a way station to get a divorce, to hide out, a place to dry out from substance abuse, or a place to hide from immigration officials.

With the cooperation of child protective services, aggressively prosecute women who are found to abuse their children.


 

Let us know what you've seen

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If you have stayed in or worked in a shelter for abused women and would like to report abuses you witnessed there we would very much like to hear from you .

Your anonymity will be preserved.

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