Given the sparse information on the effectiveness of advocacy for women with abusive partners, this article reports on the design and evaluation of a community-based advocacy intervention for women after they exited a domestic violence shelter program.
As hypothesized, the positive long-term effects of the advocacy intervention were mediated by the planned short-term intervention effects, i.e., increased social support and access to resources. Compared with women who left the battered women's shelter without advocates, women who worked with advocates for 10 weeks following shelter exit reported more social support, greater effectiveness at accessing resources, higher quality of life, and less reabuse by an intimate partner. Improvement in quality of life persisted over time and mediated the intervention's positive effects on social support at 12-month follow-up, access to resources at 24-month follow-up, and reabuse at 24-month follow-up. Participants were recruited from a Midwest shelter program of women with abusive partners. Two complementary philosophies guided the intervention. First, the program was predicated on the concept that trained and supervised paraprofessionals are at least as effective, if not more effective, than their professional counterparts in providing certain types of advocacy services. The second guiding principle emerged from the theory of strengths-based services. The paraprofessional advocates were trained and supervised, and the intervention process focused on the woman's strengths, working on issues the woman herself identified as being important to her; focusing on making the community more responsive to the woman's need; and maximizing the likelihood of long-term change occurring for the family by working within the woman's natural setting and transferring skills and knowledge to her before termination of the intervention. The description of the evaluation methodology addresses recruitment, condition assignment, and demographics. 4 tables, 2 figures, and 86 references
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- Remarks of James K Stewart to the American Society of Criminology on Taking Stock - Current Knowledge and Future Directions, San Diego, California, November 13, 1985