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Involve victims/survivors in evaluation

Last edited: March 08, 2019

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Innovative practices involving victims/survivors in feedback and evaluation processes include public consultations, women’s focus groups, victims and survivor forums and advisory groups.  Public consultations constitute a minimal form of victim/survivor involvement.  However, forums and advisory groups can be an important influencing factor on policy change and action (Hague, 2005; Hague & Mullender, 2006).  Exit interviews and survey questionnaires have also been used with success. Primarily in the health sector, these tools are used to assess service user’s experiences of routine screening in relation to intimate partner and other forms of violence against women.  These are conducted by external trained interviewers with a sample of service users, following their use of health facilities where routine screening is being implemented in order to assess how well protocols are being implemented and how services are experienced by users. 


Strategies for enabling victims/survivors to provide their views on agency responses

  • Agencies should be open to feedback from service users, even if it is critical, and should actively encourage and facilitate this (i.e. through surveys or questionnaires).
  • Questionnaires and feedback sheets (see examples on the US  Resources for Sexual Assault Response Teams website) should be regularly used as instruments to evaluate victim/survivor satisfaction with the agency’s service; their anonymity must be guaranteed in such processes.
  • The opinions of victims/survivors on the quality of the service should be gathered regularly (i.e. through questionnaires, interviews and victim/survivor groups).
  • It is also important to set up specialized focus groups, for example, with minority women or women with disabilities.
  • Online discussions with women, children or young people can be an effective way of learning about their experiences and can make it easier for victims/survivors in rural areas to get involved; safety issues have to be taken into account here as well (perpetrators may check e-mails and website use, so websites should carry clear warnings and instructions to counteract this).  (The US National Network to End Domestic Violence has produced advice on website safety).
  • Research should be carried out by experienced researchers that are sensitive to victims/survivors and to issues of safety and diversity.
  • Safety aspects must be taken into account, as must provision of child-care facilities, language interpreters and the reimbursement of expenses.
  • Victims/survivors should be informed of complaints procedures in case they wish to register complaints with the service received from any agency.
  • Women and victims’ rights advocates should empower women to register complaints (to national or international courts) about interventions by State authorities that violate their rights, in order to demand compensation and justice.

Adapted from Logar, R. (2006) Bridging Gaps – From Good Intentions to Good Cooperation: Manual for Effective Multi-Agency Cooperation in Tackling Domestic Violence, Vienna: WAVE, available in English.



Example: Women's Voices for Action Committee (Toronto, Canada)

The  Women's Voices for Action Committee (WVAC) is an advisory body that works alongside the Woman Abuse Council of Toronto (WomanACT), a policy development and planning body that coordinates effective provision of services for victims/survivors of violence against women and their families.  The WVAC is composed of women victims/survivors who provide input into the work of the Council, including policy and programme development.  One of the core philosophical principles of WomanACT is that the voices of women victims and  survivors should inform their work.

WVAC members attend monthly meetings where the current work of the Council is discussed and representatives try to attend at all meetings of the standing committees of the Council.  Members have also participated in external advisory committees, policy reviews and training initiatives to represent the voice and experience of victims/survivors.

WVAC members produce a regular newsletter, participate in the Women’s Speaker’s Bureau, which makes presentations to media and community groups to discuss the impact of violence against women and encourage community action on violence against women, and are involved in monitoring court cases through the Women’s Court Watch scheme.

WVAC members provide their services on a voluntary basis to the Council, while the Council provides members with an honorarium and reimbursement for childcare and transport expenses. There are currently six active members.

See the Woman Abuse Council of Toronto website for more information.

Additional resources:

The Ava Project website includes examples of resources and projects that facilitate victim/survivor involvement in research and advisory groups.

International Planned Parenthood Federation has developed an internationally recognised exit interview and survey tool.  For the tools and guidance on how to administer them, see Improving the Health Sector Response to Gender Based Violence: A Resource Manual for Health Care Professionals in Developing Countries (Bott, S. et al., 2010).  These tools could be adapted to assess other forms of service provision across different forms of violence against women.  Available in English.

Getting It Right! A Practical Guide to Evaluating and Improving Health Services for Women Victims/survivors of Sexual Violence (Troncoso, E., Billings, D., Ortiz, O. and Cuautli Suárez, C., 2006), Chapel Hill, NC: Ipas.  This guide contains templates for a self-administered questionnaire and brief interview for use with victims/survivors of sexual violence following their contact with integrated health facilities.  Information on ethical considerations, obtaining informed consent and how to administer the materials is also included.  Available in English