In the audio clip below, Kathleen Marvin, Executive Director, Tillamook Women’s Resource Center and Rose Thelen, Praxis Technical Assistance Partner discuss the needs of victims of battering (or domestic violence).

 


Full audio recording: Calling Victims Before They Call You, June 2014
[Recording may experience delay before playing]

 

Domestic violence is an umbrella term that includes many types of violence and behaviors, including battering (read article by Ellen Pence and Shamita Das Dasgupta) distinguishing the primary types of domestic violence). Battering is unique in that it involves patterns of physical, sexual, and emotional abuse, as well as intimidation and coercion meant to control and dominate an intimate partner. Battering is distinctive for the variety of coercive tactics, the level of fear it produces for adult victims and their children, and its potential lethality. It is not the same as slapping someone in a marriage; though that might also be called domestic violence. Battering, the form of domestic violence that is the focus of this toolkit, has been and remains most characteristic of men’s use of violence in relationships. We, therefore, use “women” in this toolkit because the majority of those who experience battering are women. We acknowledge that battering is not exclusive to heterosexual relationships and that men, transgender, queer, and intersex individuals can be battered and face unique challenges in seeking information, help, and support.

In the audio clip above, Kathleen and Rose discuss a problem common across rural America for all victims of battering: lack of awareness of advocacy programs designed to help and support victims and very few victims actually calling to receive that information and support. Commonly, victims of battering find out about advocacy programs following a law enforcement response because:

  • an officer tells her about it
  • she reads about the advocacy program in materials provided by the officer
  • an officer advises the victim to contact the program
  • an officer asks her if she would like an advocate to contact her
  • less frequently, an officer may proactively call the advocacy program on behalf of the victim

Unfortunately, these approaches typically result in few victims receiving crucial advocacy following law enforcement response. Many victims never reach out to an advocacy program for a variety of reasons:

  • they do not know what an advocate is
  • they do not know what information and resources an advocate can provide
  • they are embarrassed
  • they do not want to bother anyone
  • they do not think of themselves as being battered or abused and needing advocacy services
  • confidentiality and privacy may pose additional barriers to reaching out for help, especially in rural communities where “everyone knows everyone”

Typically, victims will not call an advocate due to a simple referral by law enforcement, and they usually decline an offer to have an advocate contact them. Many victims, therefore, are without valuable advocacy support at a time when they are under a significant amount of stress, as well as injured, confused, and vulnerable to increased coercion and violence by the batterer.

In the clip below, Rose describes why there is a renewed focus on reaching out to victims to provide advocacy after law enforcement response.

 


Full audio recording: Calling Victims Before They Call You, June 2014
[Recording may experience delay before playing]

 

When an advocate calls a victim and offers confidential support, most victims are willing to talk. They have the right to refuse, of course, but advocacy-initiated response (AIR) provides her with an opportunity to connect as soon as possible with someone who can give her critical information. AIR also can lay the foundation for continued support as a victim processes her experiences and interacts with various systems, such as law enforcement and the court system. Further, this kind of contact proves to increase her sense of safety and access to more options with housing, child care, employment, etc. Advocacy programs across the country are moving toward implementing AIR to increase the connections between victims and community-based advocates and provide important supports to victims of battering.