What began as an idea that finding help for domestic violence could be made faster and easier, one year later has become the fastest growing website in the domestic violence space. DomesticShelters.org celebrates its one year anniversary today, a short time in which it has grown from the anonymity of an unknown newcomer website to having provided referrals and information to more than 400,000 people in its first 365 days of operation.
“Based on the number of people the site has assisted in its first year and the likely doubling of volume in its second year, DomesticShelters.org can really be described as one of the most impactful national domestic violence resources to have been put in place since The National Domestic Violence Hotline in the mid-1990s,” says Ruth Glenn, executive director of the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence.
The website started life, importantly, as the first online and mobile searchable database of over 3,000 domestic violence help programs – including up to 156 standardized services and pieces of information on each program – that allows people to enter their location and quickly receive a comprehensive, simplified listing of nearby resources based on language and service needs.
“Before DomesticShelters.org, a person would conduct an online search that would typically reveal help blogs, opportunistic ad-driven sites with outdated data, paid placements by attorneys, large organizations focused on national issues and disparate shelter sites,” explains Chris McMurry, a marketing and technology entrepreneur and director of Theresa’s Fund, who notes that the overwhelming majority of consumers begin their decision making process with an online search.
“This ocean of information can make finding the right local help time-consuming and difficult. DomesticShelters.org aggregates and standardizes all of the information about the local programs and puts it in one, easy-to-use place, the result of which is finding help faster and easier.”
But, the site has expanded in its short life and become an even richer tool for people experiencing domestic violence. The site now includes more than 300 Canadian-based programs, as well as a borderless search that is so important to the many people who crisscross the well-traveled border.
Additionally, there are over 150 articles on many aspects of domestic violence, from identifying it to escaping it, to flourishing after it. There is a recommended books section suggesting supplemental reading, lists of national and state resources, and a robust statistics section that includes curated research and the first-ever statistical accounting of services available in all states and provinces.
“We even added widgets that allow anyone operating a website to incorporate most of what DomesticShelters.org has to offer on their own site. The more people that we can collectively reach with our educational and helpful resources, the more impact we can collectively create,” adds McMurry.
The Facebook page for DomesticShelters.org has grown to over 28,000 followers and the website has received nearly 1 million page views already. The majority of site’s followers and visitors are women, and 52.5% of the traffic to the mobile-enabled responsive site comes from smartphones and tablets.
“There literally isn’t a second of the day that passes when there isn’t at least a handful of people on the site looking for help or having a conversation on the site’s social platforms,” says Anita Hildreth, executive director for Theresa's Fund. “We’re definitely addressing a need and filling what was once a void.”
About Theresa’s Fund
Theresa’s Fund is an Arizona-based 501(c)3 non-profit charity started in 1992 by Preston V. McMurry, Jr. Originally, and at a time when domestic violence wasn’t yet a headline, Theresa’s Fund focused on changing the landscape of domestic violence services in its home state through grantmaking, board development and fundraising for Arizona-based organizations like East Valley Child Crisis Center, Sojourner Center, Florence Crittenden, Emerge, UMOM, and West Valley Child Crisis Center. In 2014, it developed the DomesticShelters.org concept as a way to expand its reach to people across the U.S./Canada. DomesticShelters.org is the first online and mobile searchable database of programs and shelters in the U.S./Canada, and a leading source of helpful tools and information for people experiencing and working to end domestic violence.