Coordinated Community Responses to Domestic Violence in Six Communities: Beyond the Justice System. Population Coverage and Approaches

10/01/1996

The population of women who experience battering is far greater than the group of women who seek help from the justice system or from battered women's services. In addition, traditional battered women's services have sometimes set conditions on whom they will help, especially in the shelter setting (e.g., turning away women with active chemical dependency problems). In addition, participation in the formal domestic violence network is limited to certain types of providers in some communities (e.g., in San Francisco, membership in the Domestic Violence Consortium is limited to agencies with a primary focus on domestic violence). These commitments of traditional services may leave a significant part of the population uncovered, not because they are unidentified but because they do not fit into, or will not fit themselves into, the available categories of help. As efforts continue to discover additional cases of domestic violence in health, welfare and other non-justice settings, the fit with traditional domestic violence services may prove more problematic, and lead to a greater need for both traditional domestic violence providers and all the "new kids on the block" to consider a number of issues including:

  • Who can do what best;
  • Who can serve whom best;
  • How vital experience and ways of thinking about domestic violence can be preserved and transferred to new settings;
  • How the experiences of women encountered in the new settings can stimulate renewed analytic thinking about underlying dynamics of battering and battering relationships ; and
  • How the community service network as a whole can move toward an enriched array of services and supports that meet the needs of a larger proportion of women who experience battering than are now being served.