Women’s Center seeks services to help homeless domestic abuse survivors


Women trying to escape abusive relationships are often left with little to no options for claiming their independence. The Women’s Center of Greater Danbury offers therapeutic services and support for those seeking shelter, but the services available in the community are inadequate for the extent of help that is needed.

Due to a widespread movement to get the chronically homeless off the streets, all homeless individuals must call 211 to get set up with the Coordinated Access Network (CAN) to assess their vulnerability for homelessness. Most housing services are offered to the chronically homeless, which means they have been homeless for six or more months numerous times. Since a lot of domestic violence clients don’t fall into that category it is harder for them to get services.

womensAccording to Program Manager of Shelter Services, Linda Malavet, domestic abuse leads to homelessness a couple of ways. Sometimes it becomes too dangerous to stay in a relationship so the victim chooses to leave the abuser and moves into a domestic violence shelter for safety reasons. Another way is when the abuser is irresponsible or drug addicted and money is being paid out for purposes other than rent and living expenses, which is considered economic abuse.

Since domestic abuse victims are often dependent upon their abuser, women come into the shelter with little or no resources. Most don’t have advanced degrees or trade certificates and are limited to jobs that pay minimum wage. They may be getting SSDI if they have a disability. In some cases, they can get state assistance, which is temporary and minimal.

Going into a domestic violence shelter is not always the right option so counselors work with clients to explore whether they have resources elsewhere in the country, family, friends, or other housing options. If leaving the situation is not feasible, counselors work with clients through safety planning to find ways to be safe while living at home.

Malavet said there definitely is a need for funding so domestic violence shelters can help women as much as possible. She suggested that women’s shelters should have a fund to help residents with security deposits. She would also like to see 15 more beds at the Elizabeth House.

“Victims of domestic violence need to be taken more seriously by the housing authority. There should be more section 8 vouchers available for victims of domestic violence,” said Malavet.

“Though they have made a lot of efforts to get people off the streets, there are many people who don’t fall in that immediate category (chronically homeless).”


The Women’s Center oversees the Elizabeth House, which is a 13 bed facility offering shelter to single women, or women with children. The shelter allows a limited stay of 60 days, which can be extended up to 120 days to those who are working with an advocate toward a plan to become independent.

Elizabeth House is partnered with Connecticut Legal Services to help with legal counsel regarding child support, divorce, or protective orders.

The shelter is staffed 24/7 with a residential advocate who works with residents Mon-Fri to make a plan for where they will go after the shelter. Referrals are given to women in need of substance abuse counseling, medical needs, dental or mental health issues.

Women who earn an income are referred to the Rapid Rehousing program, which offers rental assistance for a period of time until the person can make it on their own.

After their time is up at the Elizabeth House, clients may be referred to a family emergency shelter called Harmony House. Before entering the shelter, clients must undergo a risk assessment to determine if they are at risk of domestic abuse while staying at the shelter. Only women with children can stay at this shelter.

Another option is a transitional housing program called Amos House. Clients can live in the facility for two years while working toward building the skills necessary to get a better job and become independent. Amos House is also for women with children.

The location of domestic violence shelters are primarily kept confidential. The shelters assess for safety to determine the level of risk for each client. If the abuser is actively pursuing the client’s location, the client is relocated to an area outside of their current residence.

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