How the Earth Didn't Fly into the Sun: Missouri’s Project to Reduce Rules in Domestic Violence Shelters


When advocates in residential domestic violence programs throughout Missouri questioned the role of rules for residents within their programs, they were revisiting a familiar struggle. The concept and conflict of having rules in shelters has been around for as long as shelters have existed. After hearing advocates’ consistent concerns, the Missouri Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence staff began discussing the possibility of a different approach, one focused more on advocacy and less on rules. Out of these questions and discussions came the Shelter Rules Project, a chance for shelter programs to examine and decrease their rules to better align with their agencies’ philosophies and missions while receiving support from their state Coalition and colleagues. What began as a one-year plan in 2007 has continued into the present. Surveys, suggestions and the philosophy these programs followed are now compiled in this manual, or “How-to” guide, funded by the National Resource Center on Domestic Violence.