Survivor: Women’s Stories of Navigation and Tensions in a Domestic Violence Shelter

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Analysis of field notes and interviews with 28 survivors at an empowerment-based domestic violence shelter revealed that life at “Harbor Safe House” is complicated by three tensions: the complementary dialectic of independence versus dependence, the paradox of narrative accuracy versus narrative efficacy, and the contradiction of sufficiency versus deficiency of the system. Both empowerment and disempowerment are located within each tension. Insight into the processes of identifying tensions and their navigation is among the theoretical implications. Calls for flexibility and balance among tensions, as well as between empowerment and case management approaches, are among the pragmatic suggestions for domestic violence organizations.


(Dis)empowerment; Domestic Violence; Narrative; Survivors; Tensions

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