Coordinated Community Responses to Domestic Violence in Six Communities: Beyond the Justice System. Keeping the Momentum

10/01/1996

After making improvements in their response, some communities have struggled to keep the momentum going. For example, members of the DV Council in San Diego feel that they are at a turning point and must develop new goals in order to maintain their momentum around this issue. The Council had scheduled a half-day meeting just after our site visit to reevaluate their role in the community and the direction that they are headed.

Often a critical time occurs when a community that has focused heavily on criminal justice agencies feels their system has become a pretty good one. They appreciate the need for ongoing training of existing and new personnel and maintaining the quality of services. But should they choose to expand their attention to new sectors of the community (e.g., health, child welfare, substance abuse, employee assistance, clergy, mental health services), they may find that new approaches are needed. This can be a stimulating or frustrating period of transition, depending on the interest and commitment of key actors in the new sectors and the capacity of the "old" players to listen and adjust to new circumstances.

The momentum of a community's efforts can be affected by the loss of key people working on this issue. Across the sites, a number of people emphasized the stress of working on domestic violence issues which can lead to burnout and turnover among in people in the field. Thus, communities are challenged to create an effort that is not driven by individual people. For example, Kansas City experienced a shift in its coordination efforts when key staff left Project Assist. In Baltimore, the DVCC has been affected by the recent departure of the individual from the House of Ruth who had served on the committee since the beginning. The House of Ruth is still represented on the committee, but DVCC members and the new representative must establish a working relationship. While it is important to have continuity in the people participating in a community's efforts, new people can reenergize the effort by bringing new ideas.