Any community interested in expanding its ability to meet the needs of battered women needs to draw on the extensive knowledge and experience of traditional domestic violence service providers and advocates. However, in some communities relationships between traditional providers and other agencies in the community are strained and distrustful. Since traditional domestic violence providers have, in many communities, struggled with limited resources for many years, they may view with suspicion the interest of other public and private agencies in getting involved in domestic violence services. They may fear that funding will shift to these more mainstream agencies once they receive a little training, or that the traditional providers will be expected to compromise their principles in some unacceptable ways if they work with these agencies. Many turf issues may arise.
However, the experience of traditional providers and more mainstream agencies in the communities we visited suggests that both have a great deal to benefit from true collaborative work that includes discussion of and agreement on shared goals, appreciation of the roles that each can play in reaching those goals, and an understanding that it will take all of the agencies working together to reach the whole population of women experiencing battering. If they do not already do so, traditional battered women's service providers need to build relationships with providers of other services or representatives of other community sectors. In the process, domestic violence service providers can learn to appreciate the goals and constraints of other agencies and how their talents and skills can complement and augment other service providers. Traditional domestic violence service providers can develop ways to work with other agencies to translate their knowledge from extensive experience into policies and procedures that other providers can understand and follow.
Traditional domestic violence service providers can also benefit from this interaction by learning from other agencies about their clients, their legal and policy constraints, why they do what they do, and how you can both help women in different ways. It is important for traditional domestic violence service providers to stay in the discussions, and not to withdraw. It is possible that traditional domestic violence service providers and other agencies can work out some co- location or other cooperative service arrangements that keep all of their agencies growing, or a system of cross-referrals that takes advantage of all of their strengths.