Date of Paper


Type of Paper

Clinical research paper

Degree Name

Master of Social Work (M.S.W.)


Social Work

First Advisor

Sarah Ferguson, Ph.D., LICSW


Social Work


IPV refuges are an important resource for those wishing to free themselves from IPV violence, but only if they truly empower the IPV survivor by not replicating the control and power differentials from which they are fleeing. Early feminist grassroots activists actively fostered empowering helping relationships in the organizational model of collectives which espoused equality, participatory decision making, and interpersonal relationships. Due largely to funding pressures, collectives were gradually replaced by the hierarchal organizational model found in refuges today. Many worry that most IPV organizations today may actually pose a barrier to the empowerment of survivors. This research project explored the question “What would an organizational work model for an IPV refuge look like that could provide sustainably funded, best practice services to survivors while holding paramount the early battered women’s movement ideals of equality, inclusive decision making, and empowerment?” The conceptual framework that was used to inform this study was empowerment; operationally defined as the process of acquiring power to direct and control one’s own life. The research design was a qualitative structured theoretical analysis, drawing heavily from the systematic review methodology. A search of the literature was performed after specific inclusion criteria and search strategies were defined. Findings included major and minor themes related to helper relationships, and an analysis of sustainable funding models. A theoretical model of an IPV refuge was created from the findings, and implications for social work practice and further research was discussed. A call was made for taking the next step by developing a social enterprise business plan and seeking funding to test the model.

Included in

Social Work Commons