This report summarizes a study that evaluated victim advocacy services offered to battered women in Detroit and also examined other aspects of coordinated community responses to domestic violence.
The quasi-experimental study focused on women named as victims in police reports. The evaluation used official records to determine whether advocacy at the precinct level, prosecutor’s level, or both is associated with a higher rate of completed prosecutions of batterers, a higher rate of guilty findings or pleas of guilty, or decreased rates of subsequent violence. The analysis also used interviews to determine victims’ assessments of safety and their opinions on how well the criminal justice process met their needs. Results revealed that 96 percent of the victims named in the incident reports were black. Results indicated that the domestic violence teams and advocacy that the community offered were just beginning steps in helping battered women in Detroit, who are often grappling with multiple problems. Women appreciated serious and sympathetic responses by criminal justice personnel and advocates to incidents of violence. However, these services were not intensive enough to increase substantially victims’ participation in the prosecution of batterers. In addition, most participants reported that criminal justice intervention did not increase their safety. The analysis concluded that services for women with multiple needs must be intensive and sensitive to cultural and economic issues and that current domestic violence teams and advocacy are not enough to overcome the multiple vulnerabilities of battered women in Detroit.