|Battered Women & Hurricane Katrina
The findings and recommendations summarized below are based on: 1) a series of five focus groups with victims of domestic violence conducted in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina; 2) a set of post-Katrina interviews with the staff of battered women’s programs in the city of New Orleans (including counselors, directors, and other staff); and 3) a review of the literature on post-disaster crime, safety, and domestic violence.
Key Research Findings:
- Hurricane Katrina disrupted social networks and services, as well as increased financial and housing insecurity. This made it harder for women to escape domestic violence.
- Essential supports for battered women (i.e. law enforcement, medical, social support, housing and childcare services) remained in a crisis state for a long period following Hurricane Katrina.
- Although resources devoted to helping battered women and to responding to reports of domestic violence decreased sharply post-Katrina, the patterns of domestic violence probably did not decrease, and indeed may have increased among highly stressed populations.
- The local battered women programs that survived or rebuilt after Hurricane Katrina shifted their services by providing a wider range of supports in the post-disaster environment. These programs successfully reframed their relationships to the survivors and the community.
- In post-Katrina New Orleans, programs increasingly found themselves helping not only the populations they had assisted before the disaster, but also middle class women, newly arrived immigrants, and other groups who had not previously sought shelter care.
- Disaster response policy must consider how such events affect the victims of domestic violence and determine fair ways to allocate federal funding to such households, provide training for disaster workers, and address the custody issues that often affect displaced families.
- Those agencies that fund or support disaster response activities must be educated about the importance of addressing the particular needs of battered women and children.
- Post-disaster recovery efforts must focus on re-establishing essential supports for the victims and survivors of domestic violence as quickly as possible.
Pam Jenkins, Professor, Department of Sociology, University of New Orleans, 504-280-6301, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Brenda Phillips, Professor, Fire and Emergency Management Program, Oklahoma State University, 405-744-5298, email@example.com.
1) Pam Jenkins and Brenda Phillips. 2008. “Battered Women, Catastrophe, and the Context of Safety after Hurricane Katrina.” NWSA Journal, vol. 20, no. 3: 49-68.
The SSRC Katrina Task Force oversees a range of research projects
on the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and acts as a clearinghouse for
information emerging from those projects. For additional literature on
Hurricane Katrina see our Research Bibliography. For more information about the SSRC Katrina Task Force see the Katrina Hub or contact Siovahn Walker at
firstname.lastname@example.org. For other Research Bulletins see our Archive.