In this novel, the life and death drama of domestic violence is the backdrop to the daily struggle of the staff in a shelter. They must cope with terror, judgment, and burn-out, as well as the more mundane clashes with colleagues and supervisors that everyone faces. Staff working in a domestic violence shelter expect to battle with abusive spouses, victim-blaming police departments and uncooperative community resources. But when the conflict is within the shelter, and the staff begins fighting with each other, the dynamics change, drama rises, and tensions run even greater.
Through the eyes of the shelter staff, we see the pain of the victims and the abuse and violence they suffer. We also see the conflict of the shelter workers; the internal turmoil as they wrestle with exhaustion, burn-out and vicarious traumatization. And, finally, we see the conflict among the workers as they have to deal with a demanding, unreasonable boss and the very real threat of losing their jobs.
Along with struggle, we see optimism. Staff and shelter residents learn and grow; they help themselves and each other. Women triumph over brutality and despair, courageously freeing themselves and their children from violent situations, moving forward into peaceful and productive lives of empowerment and hope.
Alice Benson lives in Wisconsin with her partner and their dogs, Max and Oliver. Alice recently retired from a job in the human service field; previously she spent over thirteen years working with a domestic violence program. Her published works have appeared in Main Street Rag Anthology, Epiphany, Scrutiny Literary Journal, Shooter Literary Magazine, Delta Woman ezine, and Diverse Voices Quarterly. Alice’s first novel, Her Life is Showing, is set in a domestic violence shelter and was published in January 2014, by Black Rose Writing. Visit Alice’s website www.alicebensonauthor.com.