Women dealing with domestic violence are often confronted with 4 major barriers in their search for help.
THE VICTIMS THEMSELVES ARE OFTEN UNSURE EXACTLY WHAT IT IS THEY NEED.
They know they need help, but are faced with a confusing system of justice-related, medical, legal and social services. Which ones are key to their personal situation?
IF THEY CAN IDENTIFY SPECIFICALLY WHAT TYPE OF HELP THEY NEED, THEY MAY NOT KNOW WHO PROVIDES IT, OR WHERE TO GO TO GET IT.
Research indicates that women in violent relationships wait about a year before they seek help, in great part because they do not know where or how to access services. Women who have been in abusive relationships tell us, “I didn’t know where to turn”, “I didn’t know there was help, or how to find it”.
ONCE THEY HAVE IDENTIFIED WHERE TO GO, GETTING THERE CAN BE A PROBLEM BECAUSE THE AGENCIES ARE LOCATED AT VARIOUS SITES WIDELY SCATTTERED THROUGHOUT THE REGION.
In some cases the resources necessary to effect change are too difficult to get to quickly and conveniently. Victims contemplating making a break from an abusive relationship can be subjected to many hours of difficult negotiation of the transit system, often using their precious and limited time and emotional/financial resources in the process.
AT EACH AGENCY THEY ARE REQUIRED TO REPEAT THEIR STORY OF ABUSE, A PROCESS THAT CAN BE PAINFUL AND POTENTIALLY REVICTIMIZING.
Unfortunately, for these reasons alone, many victims remain with or return to their abuser. Picture the victim’s predicament. Perhaps she not only has children to contend with, but also an abusive partner who demands to know where she is every minute of the day, doesn’t give her enough money for gas or perhaps not even access to a car. Perhaps he grills the children as to what mommy was doing and who she was with. Perhaps he is stalking her and threatening her and the children. And what if it isn’t just safe housing that she needs, but also financial support, legal advice, medical assistance for the injuries he has caused and counseling for herself and her children? The “one-stop shopping” model of service provides women who need convenience and safety with a place they can go to get the full range of services they need. They still have the choice of going directly to one of the many independent agencies in the region providing the specific service they need. But if they don’t have the luxury of time, child care while they make the rounds, money for gas or even a car, and if they are tired and emotionally and physically beaten down, they have access to what they need in one safe location. Being able to access services in a single location that is both safe and tuned to the special needs of abused women, will encourage women to persist in ending the cycle of violence.
The “one-stop shopping” model of co-located services is an evidence-based model originating in San Diego as “The Family Justice Centre”. This model of service has been so successful that in July 2004 the U.S. Department of Justice invested $20 million in 15 communities to establish additional Family Justice Centres (FJO’s). Their motto is &Where Families Come First, and Professionals Come Together”. The model’s success has been noted around the world with projects starting up over the years in many different countries. A number of Canadian communities have started up similar systems.