This study assessed whether community agency interactions, the characteristics of services provided by staff, and the combinations of services received could predict perceptions of service helpfulness among women victims of domestic violence and sexual assault.
Women found the services of private nonprofit victim services agencies more helpful than government-sponsored public agencies, based on the characteristics of staff behavior. The services of the private nonprofit agencies were enhanced when they interacted with the legal system and other relevant community agencies. Sexual assault victims deemed services most helpful when they addressed safety issues, emotional support, and legal advocacy. Domestic violence victims felt more positive about services they received when staff addressed safety issues, child advocacy, emotional support, legal advocacy, and individual advocacy. They preferred an interaction with staff that gave them a sense of control over what was done. With sexual assault victims, on the other hand having a sense of control over services received did not predict whether or not the women found services helpful. When community agencies worked together to address the needs of victims of domestic violence or sexual assault, the women found them to be more helpful. These findings confirm previous research that has found the quality of interactions with staff and interagency coordination to be the key factors in victims' satisfaction with the services received. The authors suggest ways in which these areas can be improved. Study data were collected from agency representatives (n=200) in 26 communities, as well as from women who used their services and others living in the communities (n=1,509). The help-seeker women (n=890) were recruited by nonprofit victim services agencies and partner agencies in the legal system. The community sample was recruited through random digit dialing of households in the 26 communities. 5 tables, 1 figure, 6 notes, 29 references, and appended measures included in the analysis