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Last edited: September 14, 2012

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Beyond physical protection and security, shelters provide various emotional and psychosocial services, which are critical in supporting women to regain control over their lives. These emergency and short-term supports are central to the longer-term process of recovery and can contribute to assisting survivors remain free of violence and those at-risk avoid abuse altogether.

Shelters empower women and girls by:

  • Providing counseling (face-to-face or online) and responding to trauma to help women manage the impacts of violence in their lives.
  • Facilitating support groups to strengthen women’s access to peer-based encouragement and problem-solving.
  • Supporting the development women’s knowledge and skills through the creation of case plans to increase their choices and opportunities (e.g. legal, social and economic) which assist them to escape the patterns of control in their lives and may enable them to achieve their personal goals.

Women’s empowerment is further supported when shelters maintain an environment which encourages women to make decisions for themselves, set and achieve their own personal goals, and ensures women’s participation and inputs are integrated into all aspects of the shelter’s operation. This includes employing approaches which demonstrate teamwork and balance of power between shelter staff and women seeking support (Women Against Violence Europe, 2004a).