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Supporting critical thinking, learning and victim-defined advocacy...
“ They [the DV advocates] don’t tell you what to do but they help you, they talk to you, bought me food, cleaning supplies, you know that would last me a month or so that I didn’t need to worry about nothing. And then I got a sense that if I needed something I could call them probably and they would help me. ” — Survivor from rural area, 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
Victims are in all systems and need a broad range of responses and resources to be safer. Among the systemic advocacy challenges are figuring out how to: Identify the spectrum of victim interests; Develop systemic expertise in multiple systems; Establish an advocacy presence in those systems; and Advocate for differing victim interests.
Identify what victims need: Consider integrating information gathering about victim needs/interests into current advocacy. What information is already being gathered? What additional information could be collected that would not infringe on victim privacy or be overly burdensome to gather? How will the information be analyzed and shared? How will the perspectives of marginalized victims be gathered? (E.g. victims of color, immigrants, LBGT, those living in poverty, victims living with disabilities)
Include a broad set of victim needs, interests, and issues in domestic violence policy analysis: Prioritize. When doing analysis be comprehensive. But to be effective, limited advocacy resources must be prioritized. Choose the systems and issues carefully by consider the level of impact for victims and likelihood of change/success.
Advocate for victims who do not disclose or cannot prove domestic violence: Victims do not disclose the violence for safety and other compelling reasons, but still need help. How will those victims gain access to the system’s resources and responses? Victims may not be able to prove that they violence the experienced meet policy or practice standards. How will they get help?
Collaborate with other advocacy organizations. Build new collaborations: We can’t do it all by ourselves. Who are likely allies? How can we support and inform their advocacy? Comprehensive solutions will require collaborations beyond other advocacy organizations. Who are the currently unknown or unlikely allies that are important to policies affecting victims?
Include both domestic violence specific programs and those that are not: Help may come from domestic violence advocacy or from policies and programs designed specifically for victims. It may also come from non-domestic violence specific sources. Victims will benefit if these policies and programs are accessible to them and can respond effectively when issues of a partner’s violence or control affect that access.
Consider immediate and longer terms needs of victims experiencing the effects of experiencing the violence: Are services, responses trauma-informed? What crisis intervention is available? Is counseling, intervention, or other options for healing available to victims? To children?
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