Goal setting by women in battered women's shelters

Kathleen McHugh, Marquette University


This project attempted to gather information about battered women's goals when they enter shelter and to predict which women would report which goals. There was no examination of these issues in the literature to date. More needs to be known about battered women's goals so that shelters can provide even more effective and responsive treatment to women and help them reach their goals. Seventy-two women took part in the project, which was conducted between July of 2003 and January of 2004. Participants were women who entered a domestic violence shelter between those dates; three shelters in Central Florida area participated. The women completed questionnaires that measured chronicity of violence, depression level and locus of control. They also reported their goals in their own words and completed a demographic information sheet. The goals were coded based on the type of goal a woman reported, as well as whether or not she reported wanting to leave her abuser. Analysis was conducted on the groups formed by goal choice, to see if different women reported different goals. Differences in demographic and psychological data were used to predict goal choice. Significant differences based of goal choice were found in the women's education level, and whether, how many times, and how long they had stayed at a battered women's shelter before. Significant differences in psychological variables based on goal choice included the women's scores on three subscales of the violence scale (psychological aggression, physical aggression and sexual coercion), the scale measuring depression level, and two of the locus of control subscales (external and chance locus of control). Higher levels of violence were associated with socialization-related, competence-related, and psychological goal setting. Higher levels of sexual coercion and depression also predicted socialization goals. Higher levels of education were associated with goal-setting in the area of self-esteem. Previous shelter experience discriminated the group who set psychological goals. Previous shelter experience and higher scores on the injury scale of the violence questionnaire discriminated the group who set a goal to leave the abuser. A proposed coding scheme for battered women's goals is presented.

Recommended Citation

McHugh, Kathleen, "Goal setting by women in battered women's shelters" (2004). Dissertations (1962 - 2010) Access via Proquest Digital Dissertations. AAI3133751.