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Identify target groups to receive services

Last edited: February 26, 2019

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The identification of target groups determines:

  • Which sections of the population the response is primarily aimed at; and
  • Whether there are hard-to-reach groups that should be particularly targeted.

Target groups should be identified based on the results of the situational analysis and other preparatory research, such as assessing the scale and nature of violence against women, service mapping and conducting a needs assessment. Besides victims/survivors, target groups in a coordinated response can include victims/survivors’ families (children, parents, close relatives), as well as perpetrators and their families. [See Components of a coordinated response

Additional research or consultation exercises may be needed to obtain detailed information on hard-to-reach groups, including women who suffer multiple forms of discrimination, and service gaps, although key partner organisations are likely to have anecdotal information on these groups.  Specialist women’s NGOs are more likely to have contact with victims/survivors who do not approach mainstream services, so they may be well placed to advise on under-served groups.

The following strategies may be useful both during the development phase and once the coordinated response has been established for reaching under-served victims/survivors.


Recommendations for conducting outreach to ‘under-served’ victim-survivors

The Michigan Sexual Assault Systems Response Task Force (USA) developed the following recommendations for sexual assault programmes (applicable to any form of violence against women) to follow as they try to reach previously under-served groups of victim/survivors. 

  • Periodically review the demographic make-up of the community, using census and other local and regional-level data sources.
  • Employ staff, policies and materials that reflect the diversity within the community.
  • Collaborate and build relationships with community leaders and service organisations of traditionally under-served populations in the community.
  • Conduct a community needs assessment that includes the involvement of diverse groups in the community to improve understanding of different social and cultural barriers, economic factors and those related to location (e.g. urban/rural), age and other socio-demographics.
  • Conduct research into why some victim-survivors of violence against women are under-served and determine how to appropriately respond.
  • Develop an annual plan for the organisation that addresses the needs of the community, including an outreach plan for under-served populations, with input from community leaders and service organisations of traditionally under-served populations.
  • Programmes may not have the capacity to do outreach to all underserved survivors in their community and may have to strategically choose at which populations to target their outreach efforts.
  • Because the best solution may be to help a community provide services to its members, the programme’s outreach plan may be to work with a specific population in developing violence against women services.
  • Before undertaking outreach work, train staff on special considerations when working with the population the outreach is aimed at.
  • Ensure that direct service staff is visible in the community as part of the outreach plan.
  • Implement culturally appropriate and language appropriate outreach activities.
  • Use a range of traditional and online media (Internet, magazines, newspaper, radio, television etc.) to raise awareness about violence against women services.

Source: Michigan Sexual Assault Systems Response Task Force (2001) The Response to Sexual Assault: Removing Barriers to Services and Justice, available in English.


Tools and resources

Guidelines for Service Providers: Outreach Strategies for Family Violence Intervention with Immigrant and Minority Communities Lessons Learned from the Muslim Family Safety Project (Baobaid, 2010).  Building on lessons learned in the Muslim Family Safety Project in London, Ontario, Canada, this manual provides guidance on how service providers can reach out to isolated and vulnerable minority groups to help reduce rates of family violence.  Available in English.