“Which home are we going back to?” Children's lived experiences after leaving shelters for battered women

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Background: Shelters for battered women (SBW) are one of the main resources protecting battered women and their children from immediate threat, but the time the women can spend at the SBW is limited. Women and their children must leave the shelter when circumstances make it possible and rebuild their lives outside of it. To date, there has been a dearth of research examining how children perceive the transition from the SBW to the community and rebuild new personal and family routines. Objective: The present study explores the subjective perceptions of children of battered women of their transition from the SBW to the community. Participants: Thirty-two children (18 boys, and 14 girls) from Israel, who had resided in one of four SBWs, participated in the study. Methods: We used a qualitative, naturalistic approach, aimed at documenting children's subjective perceptions. The dataset was analyzed inductively, following the six stages of thematic analysis. Results: Three main themes emerged regarding the children's experiences: (a) escape from the shelter versus leaving after preparation: the process of leaving the shelter; (b) types of living arrangements after leaving the shelter; and (c) implications of reestablishing the social network at school. Although some of the children evaluated their lived experiences after leaving the shelter positively, most of them reported mixed or negative experiences. Conclusions: The experiences of the children after leaving the shelter and their meanings back to the community are discussed. The implications of their experiences for theory development and future research, as well as for developing interventions, focusing on the children's individual needs, when they return to live in the community are also discussed.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number104670
JournalChildren and Youth Services Review
StatePublished - Jan 2020


  • Children exposed to IPV
  • Children of battered women
  • Intimate partner violence (IPV)
  • Shelters for battered women

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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