Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Victims: Helpseeking, Advocacy, and System Experiences

Jennifer L. Woolard, University of Florida
Sarah L. Cook, Georgia State University

ABSTRACT
One of the most basic challenges to an effective response to violence against women is an accurate understanding of victimization and the appropriate community response. Limitations of official data are well known, and recent reports concur that multiple sources of data with direct relevance to policy and practice are needed. Studies of service delivery and efficacy have focused on domestic violence shelters or rape crisis centers, but the research is sparse and largely descriptive. Moreover, experiences with, and responses to, multiple forms of violence are often lost when sampling from either sexual assault or domestic violence programs. This paper presents data on women's helpseeking strategies from the only electronic statewide data collection system used by both sexual assault crisis centers and domestic violence shelters. Data will highlight women's experiences with violence, the help they report they need to achieve and maintain safety, and their experiences with formal and informal help systems. These data are the first to be collected from all women seeking help at centers and shelters, across metropolitahn and rural communities in any state.

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Updated 05/20/2006