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Victim Service Programs for Violence Against Women: Links With Other Community Agencies (From Violence Against Women and Family Violence: Developments in Research, Practice, and Policy, 2004, Bonnie Fisher, ed. -- See NCJ-199701)

NCJ Number
Date Published
January 2004
8 pages
As part of an evaluation of STOP (Services, Training Officers, Prosecutors) Violence Against Women Formula Grants Program, a Federal initiative to stimulate the growth of services for women who have been victims of violence, this paper describes how such victim service programs interact with other agencies in their communities.
Representatives of 200 victim service programs with STOP grants participated in an in-depth telephone interview and completed a faxed questionnaire. Of the programs represented in the interviews, 86 percent focus their services on domestic violence, and 13 percent address sexual assault. The programs provide various types of direct services to women victims of violence, such as legal/court advocacy, comprehensive safety planning, counseling, individual advocacy, and medical advocacy. After the interviews were completed, researchers rated each community based on victim service program reports on how well agencies communicate, coordinate, and collaborate in the community and whether or not the agencies in the community work together to provide a coordinated community response. Respondents were asked to identify two primary partner agencies in their community with which they had the most frequent and useful contact to address violence against women. Law enforcement agencies were named by 65 percent of respondents, and prosecution agencies were named by 42 percent of the respondents. Other agencies that partnered with victim service programs represented in the sample included governmental social services (25 percent); courts or judges (16 percent); legal aid (11 percent); health care agencies (8 percent); and mental health agencies, substance abuse agencies, probation/parole agencies, governmental victim service agencies, and community service agencies (less than 4 percent each). Communities were rated as to whether or not they achieved coordinated community responses to women victims of violence. To be rated as having a coordinated community response for domestic violence (the highest level of interaction), a community's law enforcement, prosecution, and the victim service program all had to be interacting at the level of collaboration. For sexual assault, the same criterion applied, with the addition of the medical community. Only 15 percent of responding communities were rated as having a coordinated community response. More than half of the victim service programs that did not serve on a task force with either of their primary agencies, however, still received the highest rating on communication, and approximately 14 percent received the highest rating on coordination. Most victim service programs attributed increases in interaction with community agencies to their STOP-funded program or another STOP-funded program in their community. Task forces can be useful forums for agencies in working together, particularly in those communities rated as having a "coordinated community response." 5 references

Date Published: January 1, 2004