Creating a coordinated community response to domestic violence: a program and policy guide for community leaders

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Virginia Tech

Domestic violence is one of the most serious social problems facing our nation today. Despite decades of social and political action led by victims, advocates and leaders in the Battered Women's Movement, it continues to threaten the safety, health and wellbeing of approximately four million women each year. It also terrorizes and teaches violent behaviors to three to ten million children annually, increases health care costs by three to six billion dollars per year, and increases annual business costs by more than $13 billion.

Studies of community-based prevention intervention initiatives have shown that efforts to eliminate complex destructive behaviors must not only be aimed at at-risk individuals but also must target change within the broader social environment.. This more comprehensive prevention strategy is based on a public health! public partnership model which differs significantly from blaming behaviors and single intervention "treatment" approaches.

With a few notable exceptions (e.g. mandatory arrest, home visiting nurse programs, and re-socialization education), single interventions have not significantly reduced domestic violence. After decades of experience, it appears that more comprehensive, integrated interventions are required to eliminate problem behaviors. Community leaders continue to search for a sufficiently potent "mixture" of information, policies, programs and protocols which can change the "System of Violence" (or culture) which supports the continuation of domestic violence.

community education, domestic violence, Leadership