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July 22, 2011 | Practice Guidance

Advocacy Beyond Leaving: Helping Battered Women in Contact with with Current or Former Partners, A guide for Domestic Violence Advocates


Jill Davies

Publication Date:


Most battered women are in contact with current or former partners, sometimes by choice and sometimes by necessity. Their children, even if their parents’ relationship is over, are likely to see their father. All victims – not just those who’ve left a relationship – deserve the resources and protection of domestic violence intervention and advocacy. If you work directly with victims, you already work with victims in contact and their children. You may talk to them on the hotline, do an intake for a shelter stay, offer information in a community outreach session, discuss protective orders in court, or listen as they tell of their struggles to the support group. Their children might be a focus of your advocacy. The abusive partners may be in programs that your agency runs. As with all family violence victims, adults and children in contact with an abuser can benefit from the information, resources, and support that advocates provide. Advocates are skilled and effective in helping victims to limit contact or leave a relationship. It is a primary safety strategy and one of the things we do well. Yet, when a victim’s focus and goals are to remain in contact, to remain in the relationship, or to improve her children’s relationship with their father, we may quickly move out of our comfort zone. We might struggle to identify safety strategies, to find resources, to know what to do and what to say. This Guide provides information that will help advocates with these challenges. In an easy to read question and answer format, this Guide offers practical suggestions to assist advocates working day to day with victims. Using the familiar and concrete framework of woman-defined advocacy, the Guide explains advocates’ important role in safety planning when victims are in contact with current or former partners. This Guide offers basic and general information and does not provide the detailed knowledge or skilled judgment necessary to advocate effectively. It is not a substitute for quality training and supervision for advocates.