In the transcript below, Kim Bruce, Systems Change Advocate, Shelterhouse, Midland, MI, describes AIR.

Yeah, this was a really exciting thing for us over the last year. Advocacy‐initiated response is just the practice of law enforcement forwarding the names of victims to the advocacy organization. So to us at Shelterhouse. And then we reach out to them. We initiate contact. That’s why it’s called advocacy‐initiated response. And that really simple idea has been radical because we have been able to connect with survivors that we would never be working with otherwise.

To hear full audio recording Increasing Your Program Capacity for System’s Change, October 2014
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Simply put, AIR is a model that connects survivors of domestic violence with community-based advocacy as soon as possible following law enforcement response. AIR involves a working agreement between law enforcement agencies and the community-based advocacy program in a particular service area (see Templates). When patrol officers respond to a 911 call that involves domestic violence, the responding officer informs the survivor that a confidential advocate will be calling them. The officer then contacts the community-based advocacy program to let them know law enforcement responded to a domestic violence-related call. The officer provides information for an advocate to contact the survivor, including whether language access services are required.[1] An advocate then calls the survivor and informs them about the law enforcement referral, provides assurances that they are not a part of the system, and provides an overview of the advocacy program’s confidential services. If the survivor is willing to talk, the advocate then:

  • assesses and plans to address immediate safety needs
  • provides information and answers questions about the criminal court process
  • provides information and answers questions about legal options available to help the survivor and how to access them (e.g., civil protection orders, immigration relief, state crime survivor reparations, etc.)
  • determines what they want to happen in court
  • determines their wishes regarding contact with their partner
  • discusses their experience with the law enforcement response
  • discusses how to include their voice in the court process
  • discusses the nature of the violence and how it has affected them
  • discusses potential hardships and intended or unintended consequences to their life and how to alleviate them
  • explores options and develops a plan for next steps to reconnect with an advocate, and other supportive networks and criminal legal agencies  (preferred language and method of communication)

One of the riskiest and most stressful times in a survivor’s life is when the criminal legal system gets involved. Using the AIR model, far more survivors receive crucial support and information that reduces stress and anxiety and enhances their sense of well-being and safety.

[1] AIR presumes that both agencies, law enforcement and community-based advocacy, have developed, implemented, and follow a robust plan to ensure ethical and legal obligations are met to provide language access for people with limited English proficiency and Deaf individuals. For more information, see the Resources section of this toolkit.