Benefits of Coordination
last updated February 1, 2006

Coordination of the responses of those in the community who come into contact with domestic violence issues can significantly increase victim protection and batterer accountability. The primary goal of coordination should always be increased victim safety. Coordinating responses without focusing on victim safety can, in fact, be harmful to victims. Coordination that is based on increased victim safety can be beneficial in four different ways.

First, the effectiveness of many responses depends on the effectiveness of others. For example, an order for protection is not effective if police do not respond to calls about violations. Police response to these calls is, in turn, more effective when prosecutors prosecute violations. The effectiveness of prosecutors' response is likewise dependent on the quality of police work. 

Second, different actors may encounter victims at different points and in different settings. Each has opportunities others may not have to help victims locate the resources they may need. For example, women who may not be willing or able to contact an advocate or shelter may still seek medical assistance; consequently, health care may be a critical avenue through which battered women might access support or assistance.

Third, reaching out to different members of the community to ask for their participation in a coordinated community response can increase the effectiveness of the response. The legal system is a critical part of any response. However, other community institutions (religious, economic, medical, media, education) may have a more powerful impact on "creating social norms" than the legal system. From Ellen L. Pence, Some Thoughts on Philosophy, in Coordinating Community Responses to Domestic Violence: Lessons from the Duluth Model 25, 33 (Melanie F. Shepard & Ellen L. Pence eds., 1999).

Fourth, a comprehensive community response can address related social problems that work to prevent women from gaining protection. Emergency shelter and criminal prosecutions are not the only needs that battered women may have. Coordinated response programs increasingly focus on related social problems that make it difficult for women to seek protection from abuse, such as poverty and unemployment or the lack of affordable housing.

Recommendations and strategies for coordinating community responses developed at the National Conference of Family Violence: Health and Justice in March 1994 are available through the National Institute of Justice's A Coordinated Approach to Reducing Family Violence: Conference Highlights (1995). Sandra J. Clark et al., Coordinated Community Responses to Domestic Violence in Six Communities: Beyond the Justice System (1996), provides a useful discussion of the evolution of coordinated community responses, goals of coordination efforts, barriers to coordination, and issues in planning, implementing and evaluating coordinated services. For recommendations on creating violence against women laws incorporating community response, see the 2008 United Nations expert group report entitled "Good practices in legislation on violence against women".  For the Russian version of the recommendations of "Good practices in legislation on violence against women,"  click here.