Questions for victim service organizations
Victim service organizations can provide insight into the experience of victims of violence against women and girls. From them, monitors can gain information which will help to determine the efficacy of the law and protocols, determine gaps in its scope and effectiveness, and identify unintended consequences of the enactment and enforcement of the existing law. Questions should also address the existence, capacity and use of support services for victims.
- What services does your organization provide?
- How are women referred to you? Do you refer women to other resources? Which ones?
- At what point do most clients seek your services? Do you see the same women on multiple occasions?
- What concerns do your clients express to you? What concerns specifically about domestic violence do your clients express to you?
- If a woman is a victim of domestic violence, is there a hotline that she can call? Is the hotline free of charge? Is it available 24 hours per day, 7 days a week? Who staffs the hotline? What training do the staff members receive?
- Does your crisis center run a hotline for victims of violence? How many calls do you receive per month? How many do you receive per year?
- Do women who come to your center sometimes call the national emergency line when they have been a victim of domestic violence? What do they report about the reception and information they are given by the national responders?
- How many places do you have in your shelter for individuals or families to stay? What is the population amount that your shelter serves?
- How long may a victim and her family stay at your shelter?
- What kinds of problems do women encounter in housing because of domestic violence? What can be done to resolve these problems?
Rights of victims:
- Do you provide a victim and her family with medical services? Are these services free of charge?
- Do you provide a victim and her family with legal services? Are these services free of charge?
- Do you provide advocacy services for domestic violence victims? Do you help them to file for orders of protection? Do you accompany them to court to obtain the forms, to file the forms, and for court hearings?
- Do you work with victims of domestic violence to formulate safety plans for themselves and for their children?
- Do you provide counseling for victims of domestic violence? Do you provide counseling for their children?
- Do you provide economic counseling for victims of domestic violence? Do you provide them with referrals to training programs for employment opportunities?
- How long may a victim continue to access your counseling services?
- Do you provide counseling and advocacy services that are specifically directed at minority groups in your area’s population?
- Do you provide counseling and advocacy services for girls who are victims of violence?
- What is your assessment of the state role in establishing and supporting service centres for victims of domestic violence? Are you aware of any such centres?
- Do you find it necessary to turn away victims of domestic violence because your shelter is full or your crisis centre has reached capacity? How many victims do you turn away each month? Are there other reasons that you must turn away victims of domestic violence?
- What is the first point of contact with the legal system for most of your clients who experience domestic violence? Do you work with lawyers? In what ways?
- Do you feel that victims of domestic violence can access the legal system? Why or why not? In what ways could the legal system be improved for these victims?
- Are you aware of the law on domestic violence? Have you undergone trainings on this law?
- Do you believe that the law is adequately enforced?
- Do your clients who are victims of domestic violence have knowledge about the legal system, particularly about family law and laws related to domestic violence? Is that knowledge accurate?
- Do you serve clients who have used the law to seek an order for protection? If so, could you describe the case(s) and your role in them? Do you believe the victim was adequately protected? Why or why not?
- How would you evaluate the police, prosecutor, and judicial responses to the needs of battered women under this law?
- Can you give specific examples or stories that pertain to a battered woman’s experience with the police, prosecutorial or judicial system? What concerns have your clients expressed to you regarding the police, prosecutorial or judicial system?
- Have you ever seen a situation in which a victim of domestic violence was also arrested, charged or convicted of domestic abuse? How often? What happens in those situations?
- What kinds of medical treatment do clients generally seek following episodes of violence?
- How well does the medical system respond to the needs of victims of domestic violence? How could this response be improved?
- What experience do you have with forensic doctors? How well do forensic doctors respond to the needs of victims of domestic violence?
- Can you give examples or stories about the experiences which battered women have had when accessing medical treatment?
- Can you describe the overall attitude toward domestic violence in the community?
- Are there social or religious pressures for women to remain with their batterer? How do you address these pressures with your clients? Can you give examples?
- Are the laws in your country sufficient to protect battered women? Are the laws adequately enforced? What are the good things and the bad things about the implementation of the law? What would you change to improve the protection and services available to victims?
- Can you provide a specific example or story of a client’s circumstances that particularly illuminate the problems that battered women face in your country?
- Can you provide me with a list of the other crisis centers in your city and country that address the needs of victims of domestic violence and their families? Are crisis centers or shelters available in rural and urban areas of your country?
- How would you describe the level of coordination between your organization and other groups, the medical and legal communities, and the government? Have you become aware of the presence or absence of coordination between different groups?
- Who are your allies in the community, in terms of issues that are of concern to victims of domestic violence? How do you collaborate with these allies?
- Is there anything else you think we should know about violence against women in your country?
- Can you recommend other individuals or organizations to speak with?