Primary Sources: Providing Critical Services for Survivors of Domestic Violence

A sad young woman.

Meeting Survivors' Needs Through Non-Residential Domestic Violence Services & Supports: Results of a Multi-State Study, National Resource Center on Domestic Violence, 2011.

What it’s about: This study documents the range of domestic violence services and supports in four states: Alabama, Illinois, Massachusetts and Washington. It was designed to convey the range of services provided by U.S. domestic violence shelters, as well as the needs and experiences of survivors. The researchers spoke to nearly 1,500 survivors and compared their experiences by race, ethnicity, gender and immigration status.

Why read it: While the study focused mainly on domestic violence programs that work with adult victims (only 10 percent of those surveyed were under 21), the findings stress the importance of trauma-informed, culturally competent programs for trauma victims of all ages.

Biggest takeaways for youth workers: According to the study, domestic violence programs help victims in myriad ways. The study also found that in most cases, the greater the victim's contact with a program, the more likely needs were met.

Most survivors felt that domestic violence programs adequately met the following needs:

  • safety
  • help with children
  • help with emotional distress
  • help with immigration-related issues

Still, programs couldn't do everything. Survivors frequently reported that they needed more economic support than programs could provide, and they also wished to see help for the person who hurt them.

Surveyed victims reported that this kind of holistic trauma recovery benefited them in many ways. Survivors cited improved self-esteem, academic success including obtaining diplomas or GEDs, success finding housing, and permanent connections with caring adults as outcomes of their experience. Many victims also said they had renewed hope, a greater sense of belonging or increased cultural appreciation. Combining practical services with trauma recovery, cultural competence and a focus on encouraging survivors' self-sufficiency might yield similar results for youth programs that work with survivors of violence.

Additional Reference: The National Resource Center on Domestic Violence has a number of online resources that complement this study, including frequently asked questions and fact sheets, on their website.

Additionally, NCFY has published two issues of our quarterly newsletter The Exchange on related topics: Addressing the Complexities of Family and Relationship Violence and Asking: “What’s Happened to You?” A Focus on Trauma-informed Care.

You may also want to learn more about FYSB's Family Violence Prevention and Services Program.

(Publications discussed here do not necessarily reflect the views of NCFY, FYSB or the Administration for Children and Families. Go to the NCFY literature database for abstracts of this and other publications.)

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