Domestic violence is a problem that needs to be perceived in the context of structural inequalities, which are closely related to the gender roles and expectations. This paper is based on research that was done in two shelters for women in need where nine women were interviewed. This paper focuses on two problems. First of them is the form of the violence. Interviews showed that domestic violence was in these cases instrumental towards building a relationship of dominance. The violent partners referred to traditional division of gender roles as a means how to reinforce their domination even in situations when they themselves were not able to fulfill their own traditional role as a breadwinner. The second aim of this paper is to point out on the problems that women have to face up to in the shelters. Despite the fact that all the arrangements were motivated by the effort to protect women, rules were perceived by the clients as too restrictive and stressful and consequently the paternalistic approach that the shelters practice in reality impedes women to reconstruct their new independent life.