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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 can I help my children?Will life be better if I stay or if I go?
Who will help me get what I need to be safe?


I was in need of financial assistance to save my apartment and needed help with finding a safe place to live and being financially able to maintain for a short period of time.

— 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 financial concerns, meeting basic needs:
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 your advocacy and priorities around financial issues would work for them? What do they think you should do?

Sample questions to help you frame the ones you’ll ask:
How does a partner’s violence affect their financial status? What do they need? What would help them be better off? What keeps them from getting what they need or improving their financial status?

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