Evaluating Coordinated Community Responses to Domestic Violence

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Since the early 1980’s, activists in the bat- tered women’s movement have been working to make reforms in the criminal justice system to cre- ate a more responsive, consistent and coordinated effort to address domestic violence cases. Reform efforts have focused on reducing cultural supports for battering and shifting the responsibility for holding batterers accountable for their use of vio- lence from the victim to the community (Pence & Shepard, 1988). While initial efforts focused on reforming individual components of the justice system, concerns about fragmentation and the ab- sence of a shared vision and public accountability, led to the development of coordinated community responses to domestic violence (Hart, 1995). This report provides a summary and analy- sis of research on coordinated community re- sponses to domestic violence. It provides an over- view of different mechanisms for coordination, examines individual components of a coordinated community response, and addresses the overall response. The focus here will be on the justice system, advocacy and programs for abusers. In recent years more attention has been given to broadening the response to include other commu- nity agencies, such as health care facilities, child welfare agencies, substance abuse treatment agen- cies, and religious institutions (Clark, Burt, Schulte & Maguire, 1996). A comprehensive community response requires that other social problems that contribute to violence be addressed (e.g., poverty, adequate housing, affordable childcare, and child support enforcement).

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  • Melanie Shepard

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