Successful Rules Reduction Implementation Process in Domestic Violence Shelters: From Vision to Practice

Shanti Joy Kulkarni, Amanda M. Stylianou, Leila Wood

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Domestic violence (DV) shelters provide safety for survivors to consider their options and heal from abuse. Unfortunately, survivors have reported negative experiences associated with shelter rule enforcement. Rules, such as curfew, decreased access to community social networks; and staff's rule enforcement may trigger survivors' past experiences with abusive control and structural racism. Rule enforcement may deter safe, trusting relationships between staff and residents. Statewide DV coalitions have been innovation leaders in shelter rules reduction efforts over the past decade. Seven DV shelter directors and coalition trainers with expertise implementing reduced-rule shelter models were interviewed for this study. Interview data were then analyzed using modified constructivist grounded theory methods. A three-stage implementation process emerged from the data. The initial stage highlighted efforts to create an organizational vision rooted in shared values. Shelters then intentionally focused on enhancing organizational capacity through staff development and team building. Third, rule-reduction practices were enacted through specific shelter policies and staff practices. Findings have broader implications for social work organizations also implementing anti-oppressive, survivor-centered, trauma-informed approaches, as this process involves considerable intention, training, and resources beyond services as usual. Social workers can support these efforts through student training, program development, and research efforts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)147-156
Number of pages10
JournalSocial Work (United States)
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • domestic violence shelters
  • intimate partner violence
  • organizational change
  • service delivery

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


Dive into the research topics of 'Successful Rules Reduction Implementation Process in Domestic Violence Shelters: From Vision to Practice'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this