Adapting the Duluth Model
last updated February 1, 2006

Although there is no one model that will work in every context, the model used by DAIP in Duluth is one of the most successful coordinated community response projects and has been adapted for use in communities in many different parts of the world.

For example, teams from nineteen countries participated in a 1998 seminar organized by the Network Women's Program on the coordinated community response model. In implementing such programs in their home countries, these teams focused on different issues. Some teams focused on providing shelter to victims of domestic violence, while others worked to sensitize police to the needs of victims of gender-based violence. Other teams pushed for legislative changes, from "sensitizing women members of Parliament to domestic violence issues in Kyrgyzstan, lobbying the legislature for a new domestic violence law in Croatia, and working with the government on a conference and policy paper in Kazakhstan." The Polish team adopted a multifaceted approach, establishing a shelter and counseling service, developing cooperative relationships with police, prosecutors and social service agencies, and holding a "forum on institutional cooperation that brought together police, prosecutors, judges, probation officers, social work agencies, and NGOs." From Network Women's Program, Bending the Bow: Targeting Women's Human Rights and Opportunities, Open Society Institute 25 (2002).

At the same time, however, it is important to note that no one model is appropriate in every context. Melanie Shepard and Ellen Pence caution that there is no "one size fits all" approach to creating a coordinated community response. Rather than discussing the "implementation" of the Duluth model, they speak of "adapting" the model. For communities that are beginning to discuss ways to establish a coordinated response to domestic violence, Shepard and Pence recommend that the process of creating the response guide decisions to allocate new or reallocate existing resources. They explain: "Ownership of the end result of the collaboration will be subverted if the structure of the DAIP in Duluth is transplanted before local needs reveal what is relevant and required." Pence and Shepard emphasize further that programs must

keep a focus on the lived experience of victims of domestic violence in all its diversity and complexity. Understandings of the dynamic and purposes of women's coping skills, their survival strategies and their help seeking should guide developments. The lives of women, men and children are not simple. We should avoid putting too simple solutions in place for them.

From Robyn Holder, Pick 'n Mix or Replication: The Politics and Process of Adaptation, in Coordinating Community Responses to Domestic Violence: Lessons from Duluth and Beyond 255, 267 (Melanie F. Shepard & Ellen L. Pence eds., 1999). In discussing the development of cooperative arrangements between police and advocates, Avalon similarly explains:

Replications of these programs are fraught with uncertainty. Replication itself is a misnomer, since the process is seldom replicated and the community conditions are never the same. This said, a new program might still be better than existing practices and worth trying, at least experimentally, as long as safeguards are in place to monitor the effort and guard against [police and advocate] collusion or its appearance. People involved in planning innovative policies or practices should try to anticipate implementation problems and unintended consequences.

From Stephanie Avalon, Advocacy and the Battered Women's Movement (October 1999) (emphasis added).