Since the 1970s, much more effort has been put into ending domestic violence. Even when those efforts haven’t been explored publicly, the past few decades have seen an increase in addressing the issue and its victim. One little considered aspect of the solution is domestic abuse shelters, and what they should look like. Jay Oyakawa explains that a number of leading architects are now finding this to be a crucial element in aiding victims.
In the past, shelters have typically been single-family homes repurposed to house larger numbers of people. Women seeking shelter were often crowded into these residences until a more permanent solution for their housing arose. In many cases, they ended up stuck in a cramped apartment for months, and even years.
Unfortunately, these living situations were often just as stressful as those the women had escaped from. For women at the most difficult time in their lives, sharing cramped quarters with another emotionally fragile person, often for an undetermined amount of time, isn’t conducive to healing.
Researchers are now saying that this clearly isn’t the best model, it was simply the available solution at the time. Although that model still persists, there are a number of people working to make a change. Margaret Hobart of the Washington State Coalition Against Domestic Violence is a powerful voice in the community. The coalition has joined forces with Mahlum, an architectural firm, and Building Dignity, a website. Together they have begun to design new options for women seeking shelter.
In traditional shelters, women often felt more powerless in their new homes than their old ones. Even free from violent assault, they were forced into strange surroundings with a number of new rules and regulations while essentially hiding. With modern technology, it’s impossible to hide for long, however. There are countless ways for an abuser to find his victim after she’s left their home. Abusers rarely, if ever, opt for direct confrontation, however.
Now, those responsible for the design of domestic abuse shelters are coming up with new plans. These new homes are designed in the style of apartment buildings. Each woman gets her own warm and welcoming room. The homes are designed to nourish the residents and aid in recuperation. These shelters are open and involved with the community. New domestic abuse shelters are finally designed to heal inhabitants, rather than hide them.
Jay Oyakawa is a veteran of the real estate industry; for nearly two decades he has helped families get into the homes of their dreams. He firmly believes that every home should be a shelter to those who inhabit it.