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How do programs help rural victims of domestic violence?

Assessing programs that serve victims of domestic violence in rural communities

Programs that serve victims of domestic and sexual violence in rural communities encounter unique challenges when providing housing and supportive services. These challenges included long distances to service providers that are often located in more densely populated areas, the lack of public transportation in rural areas, and incomes below the level to cover rent.

For the National Institute of Justice (NIJ), U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), Westat is conducting evaluability assessments and formative research for 2 multicomponent programs that serve victims of domestic and sexual abuse who live in rural and isolated areas.

The multiple case study design focuses on

  • Readiness of each program to conduct a full evaluation
  • Facilitators of and impediments to operating a program in rural areas

Data collection activities include telephone interviews with key informants (program staff and other program and community stakeholders), document reviews, secondary analysis of administrative data, site visits during each year of the project, and collection of information about the facilitators of and impediments to offering housing options in rural and isolated areas.

The Westat team interviewed program staff as well as representatives of partner agencies, such as local nonprofit housing agencies, to identify the strategies for overcoming the challenges.

The staff of the 2 domestic violence programs reported that strong partnerships with other service providers, such as housing agencies, legal aid, employment services, and food banks, helped them to overcome the challenges of serving rural clients. The 2 programs initiated the relationships and trained partner agency staff how to best serve the needs of these individuals

In many cases, the agencies did not have formal agreements, such as memoranda of understanding. They are just committed to providing clients with services that will help them live safe and independent lives.

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