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Reducing Domestic Violence with a Sector-Wide Family Approach

When a woman and her children can access a safe physical space with appropriate medical, emotional, legal and financial services, they are more likely to remain free of violence.

One of four women in the United States (31 million annually) experiences severe physical violence by an intimate partner. Forty-eight percent of women have suffered from psychological abuse, including emotional and/or financial or reproductive coercion. In Illinois alone, domestic violence hotlines receive 21,000 calls per day. Sadly, the cycle of abuse continues generationally. Children exposed to violence are much more likely to perpetuate abuse in their own families. And, domestic violence correlates to homelessness: 50% of homeless women and children who are homeless are survivors of violence.

Effective domestic violence prevention and mitigation relies on targeting individual, relationship, community and societal factors. When a woman and her children can access a safe physical space with appropriate medical, emotional, legal and financial services, they are more likely to remain free of violence. So an effective sector-wide approach must include housing, medical, mental health, legal and employment services for women and their children. 

To that end, CFP has launched a commitment to support high-quality direct service programming and capacity building for domestic violence prevention, as well as survivor and perpetrator services.

The facility includes 14 private suites for families staying four to six months and three two-bedroom transitional apartments for families that need up to two years of support.

Investments have directly increased the number of domestic violence shelter beds across Chicago and Cook County. With their newest site opening in February 2016, WINGS Metro developed first new Chicago domestic violence shelter to open in more than a decade, resulting in 40 additional beds citywide. Partnering with Metropolitan Family Services and Greater Southwest Development Corporation, the shelter provides a full array of services including counseling, safety planning, support groups, legal advocacy and employment services. These wraparound services are key to long-term survivor success. The facility includes 14 private suites for families staying four to six months and three two-bedroom transitional apartments for families that need up to two years of support.

In Illinois, domestic violence agencies face capacity issues and a significant state budget impasse. The need for up-to-date citywide data  is critical in such a constrained funding environment, but the city lacks a centralized agency to collect data across criminal justice, legal and healthcare systems. To address these challenges, CFP launched a competitive request for proposals for a local domestic violence needs assessment, specifically soliciting experienced researchers familiar with Chicago service provision. The initial investment received tremendous response, leveraging additional dollars from peer foundations and involving key thought leaders throughout the city.

Funded as a one-year research project led by the Heartland Alliance’s Social IMPACT Research Center, the primary goal was to determine existing capacity and scale of need for domestic violence services in Chicago. The assessment includes a synthesis of best practices to provide guidance on funding priorities. Key service areas include: shelter/housing, legal services, mental health services, prevention and education, child services, economic resiliency and non-traditional services. Recognizing the robust contributions and network of service providers, the Social IMPACT Research Center convenes Chicago providers, researchers, funders and government representatives.

With the overarching goals of increasing access to comprehensive health care and self-sustaining human services to high-need communities, this initiative seeks to reduce domestic abuse in Chicago by understanding the scope of support needs in the city, and facilitating sector-wide, wraparound services for whole families affected by domestic violence.