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The Price of Safety
Hidden Costs and Unintended Consequences for Women in the Domestic Violence Service System

Author(s): Sara Shoener

Specialized public resources for survivors of intimate partner violence (IPV) are increasingly common and diverse--from protection order courts and dedicated domestic violence units in police precincts to a vast network of community-based emergency shelters and counseling services. Yet little consensus exists regarding which resources actually work to reduce violence and help survivors lead the lives they would like to live. This book is an account of these resources and IPV survivors' experiences with them in three communities in the United States.

Through detailed observations of services such as court procedures, public benefits processes, and community-based IPV programs as well as in-depth interviews with dozens of IPV survivors and practitioners, Shoener describes how our current institutional response to IPV is often not useful--and sometimes quite harmful--for IPV survivors with the least material, social, and cultural capital to spare. For these women, as the interviews vividly record, IPV has long-term economic and social consequences, disrupting career paths and creating social isolation.

Biography of Author(s)

Sara Shoener is an advocate and researcher of strategies to reduce gender-based violence. She received her Doctorate of Public Health from Columbia University.


  • "This is a very strong and useful book that provides a clear and incisive analysis of what survivors of abuse need compared to what the system typically provides, and what public policy prescribes. The sections on social and economic sabotage by abusers, and how these render specialized services for survivors irrelevant, are illuminating."
    --David Adams, co-founder and co-director of Emerge and author of Why Do They Kill? Men Who Murder Their Intimate Partners