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

Victim-defined systemic advocacy implications

How will I meet my family’s basic needs?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?


That was hard, because I didn’t want to call the police, and you know you don’t really want all the people in your business thinking it’ll go away or whatever. But my kids saw us fighting, and my oldest kid was like 6, and she called the police. And I was still trying to protect him like, ‘Go inside and I’m gonna stay outside and wait for the police and tell them you not here, you left’. But my [name of child] was out there too and she said, ‘He in Mammy’s house’.

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

Victim-defined systemic advocacy implication

As we approach systemic advocacy for all victims, we must hold the full spectrum of violence and the diversity of victims’ experiences.

As we seek systemic means to reduce or stop violence we must listen to victims.  We’ll hear conflicting views. Some see their partners as cruel, frightening monsters who will not change. The intervention they seek is separation and protection. Others see good in their partners and know if they could just talk to someone or get some help that things would be better. Some victims want their partners to be punished, to pay for the harm and destruction they’ve caused. Other victims, particularly victims of color and those of marginalized groups, may be concerned that systems will treat their partners and their families unfairly.  These concerns are often greatest in the systems with the most direct impact on families, such as the criminal legal system, child protection, and child support enforcement.


  • Improve current methods to assess violence: How can we more accurately know the level of violence a person will use?  Are there methods that can be used relying on information only from the victim?  Are there methods that can be accurately used by anyone with some training?
  • Improve current methods to determine which partners who batter will change and what makes them change: What information do we need to assess likelihood of change? What assessment can we accurately make from information we receive from the victim? How are those who batter different from each other? What pushes and supports change for those who use violence and abuse? How can we know?
  • Continue to evaluate current interventions to reduce/stop violent behavior: What effects do interventions have? With which groups of those who batter? Are some interventions making things worse for victims and their children? Which ones and how?
  • Carefully and safely develop and test new interventions and services to reduce or stop violent behavior: What strategies offer promise worth evaluating?
  • Promote expansion of interventions and services to reduce/stop violent behavior: This might include both domestic violence specific programs and adding violence reduction components to other efforts.  How do we balance the use of limited resources to ensure that victims’ needs are met through direct services as well as programs designed to stop/reduce the violence behaviour of their partners?
  • Collaborate with programs and people that work with those who batter: Victims will benefit if we work with all the people and harness all the resources interested in ending domestic violence.  Because those who batter interact with a range of services and institutions, these resources are not just limited to current “batterer intervention programs.”  Seek out others who will be willing to understand and effectively respond to domestic violence issues.  You may find them in responsible fatherhood programs, employment initiatives, parenting education efforts, prison and re-entry efforts, faith institutions, culturally specific programs, substance use interventions,  clinical/mental health treatment, and elsewhere in the community.
  • Support public awareness, media campaigns that seek to reduce violence: What messages work? For which groups of partners who batter?  Which messages work to prevent battering before it starts? How should those messages be delivered?
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