Architectural Design Factors Of Domestic Violence Shelters That Affect Outcomes For Female Domestic Violence Victims: A Naturalistic Inquiry To Establish Grounded Theory For Future Research
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Designing domestic violence shelters for women must be considered from a feminist perspective, inclusive of theories of embodiment, as the female victim's emotional state (mind) is a critical component in determining her overall state (i.e., level of distress). The primary objective of this study (Specific Aim 1) was to identify the mental and emotional state of female domestic violence victims upon entry into a shelter as a means of establishing specific user needs which should directly impact the design of the shelter. The primary hypothesis (Hypothesis 1) was that upon entry into a shelter environment, victims are experiencing high levels of distress compared to normative controls. The secondary objective of this study (Specific Aim 2) was to identify shelter users? perceptions of the current shelter environment in which they lived as a foundation for matching specific design criteria with the specific needs of the female domestic violence victim (i.e., stress reduction) in an attempt to understand the relationship between user needs and individual design characteristics of the shelter. The secondary exploratory hypothesis (Hypothesis 2) was that anxiety or stress is reduced over time; therefore, the architectural design of a shelter that promotes independence will result in less distress among domestic violence victims utilizing the shelter. Thirty-three domestic violence victims in Fort Worth, Texas participated in focus groups and interviews conducted over a four-month period of time in 2009. Qualitative analysis of this data yielded four emergent themes: (1) loss of independence and control: the second layer of fear; (2) the search for security; (3) reconnecting to self; and (4) expressions of humanity. Quantitative analysis was utilized to measure participant stress levels at three intervals during their thirty day shelter program: (1) within the first twenty-four hours of shelter entry; (2) seven to ten days after shelter entry; and (3) fourteen or more days after shelter entry. Findings of this researcher have been utilized to generate design objectives that can be extrapolated to apply to other locations of shelters and could impact the design of new facilities as well as the redesign of current shelters.
Prestwood, Laura E. (2010). Architectural Design Factors Of Domestic Violence Shelters That Affect Outcomes For Female Domestic Violence Victims: A Naturalistic Inquiry To Establish Grounded Theory For Future Research. Doctoral dissertation, Texas A&M University. Available electronically from