The Aftermath of Shelter: Abused Arab Women in Israel

Eli Buchbinder, Nisreen Georgre Karayanni

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Shelters for battered women play a major role in combating abuse against women. Extensive research has dealt with various aspects of shelters, including professional and ideological perceptions and the women’s experiences. However, scarce research exists on women’s coping following shelter-stay, especially research on the meaning of shelter-stay for women from collectivist societies. In the present study, we focused on how Arab women who had lived in a shelter coped after returning to the community to begin independent lives. In the Arab society in Israel, Arab women who live in shelters are perceived as violating a cultural norm. In-depth qualitative interviews were conducted with 12 Arab women aged between 25 and 42, who had stayed in a shelter for Arab women for at least six months. The major themes that emerged from the interviews revealed changes in perception of self and of social environment, including a self-transformation from weakness to strength, from perceiving themselves as devoid of rights to the development of an identity of entitlement. Through their release from weakening cultural systems, they were transformed from familial and societal victims to empowered beings, and moved from negative gender self-awareness to an empowered gender self-perception. These changes helped the interviewees to cope with stresses and to live independently. The findings are conceptualized in the discussion using relational-cultural theory.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)193-206
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Social Service Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - 15 Mar 2019

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018, © 2018 Taylor & Francis Group, LLC.


  • Abused women
  • Arab women
  • shelters

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Sociology and Political Science


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