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

Implications for victim-defined advocacy

How can my partner’s violence be reduced or stopped?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?

At [DV program name], I got therapy for myself and children. They helped me find work, and provided children’s tutoring after school. Also, they provided legal services and had somebody accompany me to the court hearings.

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

Implications for victim-defined advocacy

Define safety broadly

Safety is freedom from the violence and control and the ability to provide for basic human needs. Victims are still in danger if the end of violence is the beginning of a life with no home, stable income, health care, food, or an education for their children. This means that safety plans must be comprehensive.

Determine what will enhance safety

Ask the victim about the violence, about her life, her culture, and what she thinks will enhance safety. Share information about domestic violence- specific and other relevant options and explain what you think will help. Talk about it and give her the opportunity to figure out what options she would like to pursue.

Always explore the possibility of life-threatening violence and serious risks to children. If this is a threat, more discussions and advocacy are necessary.

Help the victim pursue the options she’s chosen

Her priority may not be domestic violence, particularly if she is living in poverty.

Offer other options

Provide the victim with information about strategies that may make her and her children safer (reduces violence, increases financial stability) even if she chooses not to pursue them now.


Can’t do it all. Victims need our domestic violence specific assistance and our advocacy to get what they need from other systems and service providers.

Learn more about victim-defined safety planning here.

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