16 Poignant Photos Show What A Domestic Violence Shelter Really Looks Like

In conversations around domestic violence, a "shelter" so often becomes an abstract symbol -- of both desperation and optimism, of the last resort and a fresh start -- that we forget it’s also a physical setting where survivors of abuse sleep, eat, talk, work, play, and heal. What's more, for the safety of those who live in them, shelters are often unidentifiable from the outside and inaccessible to people who don't need their services.

To shed light on these spaces, Safe Horizon -- the largest provider of domestic violence shelter in the country -- invited us into two of its shelters, Lotus House and Rose House, to meet staff members and speak with Terrance and Gabriela, two of the 2,200 survivors the organization has housed over the past year. Terrance, 45, escaped an abusive relationship in September of 2014 and has been living at Lotus House for what he calls "a fascinating, wonderful year." Gabriela, 33, an undocumented immigrant from Guatemala, is staying with her two daughters at Rose House after 13 years with a financially abusive husband who blocked her path to citizenship. (Her interview has been translated from Spanish.) Their stories weave together both devastation and hope.

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