Though AIR had only been implemented in Midland, MI for a few months, Kim Bruce, System Change Advocate, Shelterhouse, discusses the positive impact it’s had on the community in such a short time.
Full audio recording: Increasing Your Program Capacity for System’s Change, October 2014
[Recording may experience delay before playing]
Kim’s real world experience supports what the research shows: confidential advocacy is intrinsically linked to safety and feelings of control over one’s life and produces better outcomes for victims: psychological distress is reduced and court outcomes are enhanced. However, many rural victims live in extreme isolation and may not know advocacy services exist or may be confused about the services advocates provide. Even if the program has done a good job promoting its services, just knowing a resource is available, just seeing a flyer in the bathroom, does not guarantee a victim will access it.
In order to provide the best access, advocacy programs typically provide many ways for victims to find out about them and talk with them. Implementing AIR is a way to proactively reach victims in the community who are at high risk of continued and escalating violence. Advocates:
- understand what the victim is facing at this highly stressful time
- can provide immediately useful and relevant information about what is likely to happen next with the system’s handling of her case
- can help her prepare for when he gets released
- know signs for increasing risk and danger
AIR also provides an opportunity for advocacy programs to hear first-hand about any complaints or problems victims have with the law enforcement response (read an article in Praxis Rural Digest, Issue 5, on Building the Case for Systems Change). The advocate can document the problem and promptly bring it to the attention of law enforcement or 911.