The Human Element in a Domestic Violence Shelter Environment

Written by:

Lynn Kaiser Conrad
Chief Operating Officer
Domestic Abuse Council, Inc.

Our universe and our world are composed of many elements. We are all familiar with the basic elements on the periodic table for our existence. We need oxygen, nitrogen and hydrogen. Then there are more interesting and alluring elements that are full of possibilities like carbon and platinum.

Through all of the essential items necessary in life to exist, we must address the most important element, the human element. Although not on the periodic table, it is the most complex of all. The Human Element has all of the properties for survival and it is adaptable to change and new environments.

The Human Element has vulnerability. Humans can express joy and sadness. Humans can create energy through laughter and tears.

Once aspect of the Human Element is Domestic Violence, also known as Intimate Partner Violence.

How does domestic violence affect the Human Element? The Domestic Abuse Council, Inc. operates in Volusia County, Florida and with a population of about a half a million people, just a mere spec in the universe amongst all the elements, last year 421 individuals lived in the emergency shelter. Of that total, 191 of those humans were children.

Those people slept in the shelter for 13,873 nights. What does that number mean? If one person sleeps in their bed in their home every night, that is 365 bed nights. So those 13,873 bed nights converts to 38 years.

Imagine the wear and tear on everything in the shelter. To live 38 years in one year. Just walking on the floors, opening and closing the doors. Turning the faucet on and off. Now add some energy. Folks who come to the shelter, whether they are young or old have experienced some kind of trauma. They may still be in crisis while living in the shelter. They may not be aware of their surroundings, like you are in your own home. They may not be gentle with their belongings because they are thinking about other things.

According to the Community Agenda Snapshot of Volusia & Flagler Counties 2014 report, the African American population for Volusia County is 10.8%. Why then were 47% of our children in residence at the shelter African American. Statistically speaking, there more than 4 times more African American children in shelter than are in the general population. It is a concerning enigma.

When dealing with domestic violence, as with the Human Element, there are more questions than answers.