Document Type

Capstone Experience

Graduation Date


Degree Name

Master of Public Health


Health Promotion

First Committee Member

Dr. Shireen Rajaram

Second Committee Member

Ms. Johanna Jones

Third Committee Member

Dr. Lynette Smith


Background: Domestic violence (DV) is a serious public health issue in the United States, and globally. It includes physical violence, sexual violence, threats, emotional abuse, stalking, and psychological aggression (including coercive acts) by a current or former intimate partner. It is a serious, preventable public health problem that affects millions of Americans (CDC, 2017b). There is an alarming number of domestic violence cases encountered each year. Globally, 1 in 3 women has experienced some domestic violence in their lifetime. Globally, as many as 38% of women are murdered by an intimate male partner because of violence against an intimate female partner (World Health Organization, November 2017). In the U.S., over 1 in 5 women (22.3%) have experienced severe physical violence by an intimate partner at some point in their lifetime, translating to nearly 29 million U.S. women (Breiding, M.J., Basile, K.C., Smith, S.G., Black, M.C., Mahendra, R., 2015). In many cases, domestic violence survivors are forced to flee from their houses and leave their abusers with or without their children. Domestic violence shelters provide survivors with safe housing and other support services such as access to physical and mental health care and job and life skills training through referral to other programs and agencies.

Method: This study utilized a qualitative methodological approach using in-depth one-on-one interviews and focus groups. Two focus groups were conducted with staff who provide direct services at an organization that provides services to domestic violence survivors. Interviews were conducted with a convenience sample of five women who have lived in a domestic violence shelter in the Omaha/Bellevue/Council Bluffs area using a semi-structured interview guide. The questions focused on emergency housing needs of the domestic violence survivors and access to other necessary services. Interviews were digitally recorded and transcribed. The transcripts were analyzed for codes and key themes.

Results/Findings- Three key themes emerged: (1) Client experiences with DV shelters, (2) Current services available for DV clients in the DV shelters, and (3) Emergency needs or requirements of DV clients. These results have significant implications for domestic violence survivors, direct service providers, policymakers, and respective domestic violence shelters.

Conclusion: This needs assessment study intends to ensure and improve the quality of services provided by the domestic violence shelters to the survivors of domestic violence. There is a significant scope of changes and improvements that need to be implemented to provide better, trauma-informed access to services for domestic violence survivors in the Omaha and Council Bluffs area that can lead them to a strong independent life for themselves and their children.

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