Support Groups and Community-Based
Advocacy for Abused Women
LESLIE M. TUTTY
During the past 20 years, as society has finally acknowledged the extent and serious nature of the abuse that many women endure from their intimate partners, shelters for battered women have become fixtures in communities across North America. The safety and support offered to residents and their children have been essential in assisting many to leave abusive relationships and start a new life (Dziegielewski, Resnick, & Krause, 1996; Tutty, in press; Tutty, Weaver, & Rothery, 1999). However, given that serious abuse in intimate couple relationships is widespread, shelters cannot serve all who come to their doors, often sending away as many as they take in.
Furthermore, not all women leaving abusive relationships seekshelter services (Gondolf & Fisher, 1988). The Canadian Violence Against Women Survey from 1993 reported that only 13% of women leaving abusive spouses went to transition houses (Rodgers, 1994). Most women stayed with friends or relatives (77%); others moved into a new residence (13%) or stayed at a hotel (5%). The reasons women gave for not using shelters included not needing such help (40%), seeing their abuse as too minor (25%), being unaware of shelter services (16%), or having no services available in their community (14%).
Why do a relatively small percentage of abused women utilize shelters? According to Weisz, Taggart, Mockler, and Streich (1994), many women choose not to use the shelter system because they have the resources to access preferred alternatives. Thus, transition homes are serving those who need