Domestic violence, or intimate partner violence, is a willful single occurrence or a pattern of abusive behavior employing coercion, threat, intimidation, isolation, power, or fear that results in physical, psychological, or emotional trauma. In the 1960s and 1970s, second wave feminism and the Battered Women's Movement brought the issue into the public sphere. Activists in the movement advocated for greater public attention to domestic violence perpetrated against women by their male partners, and began providing services to victims by offering their homes as early versions of shelters. According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, 85% of all domestic violence victims are women. Recognizing the urgency of adequately addressing this issue, over the last 30 years, the federal government has increasingly taken action to reduce domestic violence and provide services for its victims.
Source: Root Cause
Experts recommend that nonprofits use the empowerment approach, grounded in the belief that victims of domestic violence should have access to information, education, and other necessary social and economic support to make informed decisions that best reflect their interests and needs. The four components of the empowerment approach, outlined below, should be available to all victims in all communities. High-performing nonprofits that provide all four of the components of the recommended approach, either singularly or in partnerships, place the agency of change in the victims' hands by helping them access knowledge and resources to reduce harm, cope with abuse, and plan for safety.
Community Awareness and AdvocacyAwareness and advocacy initiatives include a variety of programs to improve community response to reduce domestic violence, increase public attention, and inform victims of their options. Initiatives take many forms and seek to support, strengthen, and encourage victims to seek out assistance and knowledge while reducing shame and taboo associated with victimization.
Crisis and Pre-Crisis ServicesCrisis and pre-crisis services are necessary to respond quickly and effectively to the physical and emotional trauma. A confidential 24-hour toll-free hotline provides information and referrals for victims or women who are in danger of becoming victims. High-performing hotlines offer guidance on safety planning, referrals, legal rights and advocacy, and resources to better understand the issue.
Medium- and Long-Term ServicesMedium- and long-term services focus on the provision of services to address the long-term welfare of victims. These services include counseling, legal and medical advocacy, and assistance in establishing independence. Counseling is designed to improve victims' coping skills, decrease social isolation, and increase self-esteem. Legal and medical advocacy focuses on the provision of knowledge, information, referrals, and physical and psychiatric care. Services that help establish independence can include permanent supportive housing, education, and English language courses.
Children's ServicesMany women will not seek assistance without knowing that their children will also receive care. High-performing nonprofits have separate counseling and support groups for children who have either witnessed or experienced domestic abuse to help them cope with violence, learn about safety plans, and reduce self-blame.
Presently, indicators to measure progress in reducing domestic violence are insufficient due to the difficulty of establishing a direct cause and effect relationship between the variables. For example, an increase in the number of domestic violence incidents that are reported is often used as an indicator of progress on assisting victims. External forces, however, render this indicator ineffective:
Social Impact Research (Root Cause) has not yet analyzed organizations that provide services to victims of domestic violence. Donors can evaluate nonprofits that empower victims of domestic violence independently using Social Impact Research's Guide to Giving.
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