Date of Award


Document Type

Scholarly Project

Degree Name

Master of Occupational Therapy (MOT)


Occupational Therapy

First Advisor

Cherie Graves


Domestic Violence; Domestic Violence Shelters; Unmet Needs; Kawa Model; Program


Background Domestic violence is a public health concern that affects 43.6 million women, or greater than one in three women, each year in the United States (National Coalition Against Domestic Violence [NCADV], n.d.). Following experiences with domestic violence, victims endure various long-term physical and mental health challenges. These challenges negatively affect women’s abilities to carry out many daily occupations, as well as live independently. When a victim flees domestic violence, they often find themselves seeking support and safety from domestic violence shelters. These shelters are designed to focus on the victim’s immediate physical needs and less on their mental health and long term recovery needs. Therefore, many victims find themselves leaving the shelter with many unmet occupational needs.

Purpose Currently, there is a limited number of occupational therapy practitioners providing services to victims in domestic violence shelters as well as limited resources available to target victims' unmet needs. Therefore, the purpose of this scholarly project is to create a program that may be used to guide occupational therapy practitioners in providing services and addressing unmet occupational needs of women residing in domestic violence shelters.

Methods An extensive literature review was conducted to guide the development of this product. Through examining and analyzing various research articles, primary areas of occupational need emerged. These include: work, social participation, rest and sleep, and instrumental activities of daily living, both health management and maintenance, child rearing, and various underlying client factors. The Kawa model was used to organize this information and guide development of this product.

Results Based on the primary occupational needs identified in the literature, an occupational therapy program for women in domestic violence shelters was developed. This program directly targets victims unmet needs as identified in the literature. The goal of this program is to help victims of domestic violence reach a state of balanced well-being and build a better future for themselves.

Conclusion The purpose of this product is to guide occupational therapy practitioners in providing services to victims of domestic violence residing in domestic violence shelters. The product also serves to advocate for the role of occupational therapy within domestic violence shelters. It is recommended that further research be conducted in order to test and strengthen the effectiveness of this program.