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Supporting critical thinking, learning and victim-defined advocacy...

Understanding what victims in your community think

How can my partner’s violence be reduced or stopped?How will I meet my family’s basic needs?Will life be better if I stay or if I go?
Who will help me get what I need to be safe?


[My children and I] are closer; they trust that I will take care of them no matter what.

— Survivor, Meeting Survivors’ Needs through Non-Residential Domestic Violence Services & Supports: Results of a Multi-State Study by NRCDV (November 2011)

Understanding what victims in your community think

Understanding victims’ needs and perspectives is the foundation of victim-defined advocacy. If you don’t know what victims think you can’t be victim-defined.

How: There is a wide range of ways to gather and analyze information. Do not let the process or time keep you from finding out what victims think. Just ask! Ask a specific question at intake, or during support groups, or as part of community outreach. You might also ask advocates and others who regularly work with victims what they are hearing. Gather information from as many victims as possible, those you regularly serve and those you don’t. Know who is missing from your data. Is it women of color, immigrants, victims living in poverty, LGBT victims or other marginalized group? Make an effort to find out what they think.

Then think and talk about what you’re hearing. Information used in this process should be generalized to protect victims’ safety and privacy. If resources are available conduct formal research, inquire about a broader range of issues, or track information over a longer term. Do what you can, but do something.

What to ask victims about helping their children:
Ask what is relevant to the priorities and context of your advocacy. Ask some open ended questions that will give you information about victims’ priorities. Do victims think that your advocacy helps them to help their children? What do they think you should do? What are mothers’ priorities for themselves and their children? What would help them strengthen their relationships with their children?

Sample questions to help you frame the ones you’ll ask:
What are your hopes for your children? What are your worries about them? What help do you think they need? What do you need to make things better for your children?

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