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Identify which forms of violence against women to focus on

Last edited: February 26, 2019

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An important aspect of successful coordination is a shared understanding of how different forms of violence against women are connected by similarities and parallels in their causes and consequences.  The ideal is for a coordinated response to include measures that address violence against women as a whole including all aspects and forms of it.  Coordinated responses efforts should be aware thought that it may not always be feasible to address each specific form of violence against women in all contexts.

The forms of violence against women that the coordinated response sets out to address will depend on a range of locally specific factors, such prevalence, whether there are groups or victims of certain forms of violence against women who have been historically marginalised, and which organisations are driving the move towards greater coordination.   Different forms of violence against women may also require particular types of intervention. For example, acid attacks or FGM/C will require specialist medical treatment.  In deciding on a focus, the data and information gathered in the situational analysis, such as available data on prevalence, the service mapping and the needs assessment may be useful

To date, many coordinated responses have focused primarily on intimate partner violence or, to a lesser extent, on sexual violence.  However, combining work on various forms of violence against women can be advantageous because it helps to underscore the linkages among the different forms, highlighting the complex, multi-layered societal rather than an individual nature of the problem.  Addressing multiple forms of violence through a coordinated effort may also result in increased resources to groups working on forms of violence against women that are less typically beneficiaries of government funding.  The approach (below) adopted in Wisconsin, US, linking intimate partner and sexual violence, offers examples of how coordinated responses can seek to address multiple forms of violence against women.

 

Example - Wisconsin Coalition against Domestic Violence and Wisconsin Coalition against Sexual Assault (USA)

Most of the domestic violence/sexual assault service provider programmes in Wisconsin are dual agencies, providing services that respond to both forms of violence. This approach is reflected in the many dual coordinated community responses (CCRs) around the state. 

Wisconsin has two coalitions – WCADV works on domestic violence and WCASA addresses sexual assault and trafficking.  These two coalitions have made conscious efforts to connect the two issues and work together, recognising that victims/survivors may have experienced both domestic violence and sexual violence.  In their dual work, WCADV and WCASA emphasize that CCR teams need to be intentional about addressing both issues, especially sexual assault, including the differences between sexual assault and domestic violence, how victim/survivors respond, and how systems react.  Strategies for addressing both types of violence include having separate committees that address each issue; making it a priority to discuss sexual assault issues in dual meetings; and training focused on sexual assault.  They have developed a CCR toolkit, which has been made relevant to CCRs addressing either intimate partner violence or sexual assault, or a combination of the two.  The toolkit contains lessons drawn from the experience in successfully implementing a combined focus on domestic and sexual violence n the context of a coalition or CCR.

How to have a successful dual issue CCR:

  • Learn from sexual assault and domestic violence victims/survivors about needs in the community
  • Learn about the commonalities and differences between sexual assault and domestic violence
    • Identify commonalities and areas where it makes sense to work together
      • Intimate partner violence (sexual assault in the context of domestic violence)
      • Power and control, entitlement
    • Identify differences and how to approach these differences
      • Sex industry/trafficking/forced marriages
      • Child sexual abuse
      • Stranger assault
  • Make a commitment to address both issues through coordination, including dedicating equal time, funds, staffing, and energy to both sexual assault and domestic violence.
  • Establish trust by respecting the equal importance of both issues.
  • Aim for equal representation from the sexual assault and domestic violence fields in the CCR.
  • Create an official name for the CCR that indicates that it is working on both sexual assault and domestic violence issues.
  • Create a mission and vision statement for the CCR that reflects a commitment to ending both sexual assault and domestic violence.
  • Allow individual sexual assault and domestic violence organizations to develop their own identities (with media/community groups/general public).
  • Identify individual funding streams for sexual assault and domestic violence work.
  • Promote the need to address domestic violence and sexual assault equally.
More information, see:

Wisconsin Coalition Against Domestic Violence website. Available in English

Wisconsin Coalition Against Sexual Assault website. Available in English.

Source: Adapted from WCADV and WCASA (2009) Wisconsin Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault CCR Toolkit, available in English.  Additional information provided by WCDAV and WCASA.

 

See also Why is a coordinated response important and needed/Connecting different forms of VAW, strengthening understanding of VAW dynamics.