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?