Goals and Strategies of Intervention

last updated March 2019

Inter-agency response refers to an intervention strategy involving the cooperation, communication, and collaboration of all disciplines involved in domestic violence to ensure a unified, consistent, and holistic approach.  The disciplines involved include health professionals, police, judicial and legal services, community advocacy organizations, prosecutors, and other relevant community groups. 

Victim safety is the paramount goal of an inter-agency response to domestic violence. The success of a program is measured by whether the institutionalized processes enhance victim safety, hold offenders accountable, and succeed in changing community attitudes about domestic violence from tolerance to intolerance of domestic violence. In their discussion of the Duluth Model, Pence and Shepard listed eight goals that assist in the creation of a successful inter-agency response to domestic violence:

  • Creating a coherent philosophical approach centralizing victim safety;
  • Developing "best practices" policies and protocols for intervention agencies that are part of an integrated response;
  • Enhancing networking among service providers;
  • Building monitoring and tracking into the system;
  • Ensuring a supportive community infrastructure for battered women;
  • Providing sanctions and rehabilitation opportunities for abusers;
  • Undoing the harm violence [against] women does to children;
  • Evaluating the coordinated community response from the standpoint of victim safety.[1]

Specific strategies for achieving these objectives vary depending on existing resources and capacity. However, two of the more essential strategies are the training of first responders to ensure safety for survivors at the scene and training for all personnel in participating systems. The provision of crisis intervention services for legal advocacy, medical care, and financial and housing assistance are also important, as are follow-up services for survivors such as counseling, support groups, childcare, and further assistance with accessing basic needs services. The judicial system must also be able to coordinate effectively with advocates to properly respond to abusers and victims’ needs. This requires active involvement with other community partners and continued monitoring of all interventions. Prevention efforts by an inter-agency team can include outreach, education, early intervention services, specialized services for children and youth, and public education, including the use of media campaigns.[2]

In implementing an inter-agency response to domestic violence, advocates should be sensitive to the needs of their specific community, recognizing that the strategies that worked well in one community may not be the best fit for their own. Programs must be developed in the context of violence within the particular community. In order to determine a community’s needs, advocates must listen to the needs and voices of victims and shape programs accordingly. In addition, advocates must recognize that strategies impact groups differently. For example, members of the LGBTQI community may be distrustful of law enforcement and may be further harmed by gendered discussions of domestic violence. All intervention policy/practice development must recognize how the impact of intervention differs, depending on the economic, cultural, ethnic, immigration, sexual orientation, and other circumstances of the victim and offender.[3] Evaluation of policies and practices must take into account whether victim safety is enhanced and avoid policies and practices that increase the risk of harm to victims.

[1] Ellen L. Pence & Melanie F. Shepard, Introduction, in Coordinating Community Responses to Domestic Violence: Lessons from the Duluth Model 3, 16 (Melanie F. Shepard & Ellen L. Pence eds., 1999).

[2] American Medical Association, Family Violence: Building a Coordinated Community Response 13–16 (1996).

[3] Goals and Principles for a Coordinated Community Response, EndVAWNow, http://www.endvawnow.org/en/articles/128-goals-and-principles-for-a-coordinated-community-response-ccr.html (last accessed Oct. 10, 2018).