NRCDV Logo
  • Adult Children Exposed to Domestic Violence
  • Runaway & Homeless Youth Toolkit
  • Prevent Intimate Partner Violence
  • Violence Against Women Resource Library
  • Domestic Violence and Housing Technical Assistance Consortium
  • Domestic Violence Awareness Project
  • Building Comprehensive Solutions
  • National Resource Center on Domestic Violence
Escape Escape
If you are in danger, please call 911, your local hotline, or the U.S. National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233. There is always a computer trail, but you can leave this site quickly by clicking on this button. See more technology safety tips here.
Supporting critical thinking, learning and victim-defined advocacy...

Understanding what victims in your community think

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?


Drug abuse. I think they need something, if there’s anything, because I know lots of people end up using drugs as an escape. But I didn’t see where there was a lot of help. If you don’t have insurance, you don’t have this. Like that stuff. You know group throughout the, you know right in the [name of LGBTQ abuse support organization] where they have a substance abuse group or something like that, to be able to share that kind of using substances or using other things to cope with this stuff.

— LGBTQ Survivor

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 in your community think, you aren’t 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 about specific victims used in this process should be generalized to protect their 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 reducing or stopping violence:
Ask what is relevant to the priorities and context of your advocacy. Ask some open ended questions that will give you information about your assumptions and plans. Do victims think your priority and plan would work for them? What do they think you should do?

Sample questions to help you frame the ones you’ll ask:
Do they think their partner might change? Why do they think so? What do they think would help their partner change for the better? What would make him a better partner? What would make him a better parent? What have they tried that has worked? What didn’t work? Why? What safety strategies and protections do they need as they wait for change? What would make things worse?

This website is funded through grant # 90EV041001 from the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Family and Youth Services Bureau. Neither the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services nor any of its components operate, control, are responsible for, or necessarily endorse this website (including, without limitation, its content, technical infrastructure, and policies, and any services or tools provided).