Have you ever wondered why it’s easier to make friends in a college dorm than in a classroom? How about why you can study in a library, but not in your living room? Architecture and the physical environment can dramatically impact the type of human behaviors therein. This blog explores the behavior impacts of the built environment as they relate to constructing space for survivors of sexual violence at the YWCA Dayton’s Center for Survivors of Sexual Violence (CSSV).
Comfort and control are key factors in designing spaces that are functional and help individuals meet their goals. The built environment is the part of the physical world that is artfully and intentionally created by people, (Hutchison, 2019, p.212). The CSSV, as a new program, has the opportunity to renovate and customize the center for survivors of rape and other forms of sexual violence to foster healing and safety for those seeking services.
This customization must include considerations that foster a decrease in intrusive behaviors and increase the feelings of ownership and security. These considerations involve adding home-like elements to institutional spaces, (Hutchison, 2019, p.213). The CSSV is incorporating comfortable armchairs, organized in tables for 2-3 people, surrounded by rugs, lamps and drapes to encourage conversation and comfort for interviewing spaces. To encourage safety, privacy and social interaction, the center has many, small-sized spaces rather than large, open spaces which can promote disconnection as well.
The CSSV seeks to build a center that survivors can feel safe and heal inside. From the always full Keurig, to the baskets of chocolate and gift bags of hygiene products, the physical space for survivors at the center is, and is becoming, an inviting, private and functional place to heal for survivors of sexual violence.
By: Alicia O’Bryan, EKU social work student
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Hutchison, E. D. (2019). Dimensions of human behavior: Person and environment (6th ed.). SAGE.