By Amanda Stylianou
March 20, 2017
At Safe Horizon, we believe that our clients are the experts in their own lives. We offer support, information, and expertise so that each client can exercise his/her right to make informed decisions and choose their own path. This survivor-defined practice is characterized by an emphasis on client choice, collaboration, and a sensitivity to the unique needs, risks, and resources of each individual.
To understand whether survivor-defined practice contributes to safety-related empowerment among intimate partner violence survivors, Safe Horizon partnered with Dr. Lauren Cattaneo and Dr. Lisa Goodman to conduct a longitudinal study in Safe Horizon’s Community Programs.
The preliminary data consisted of 119 survivors of IPV seeking community-based services from Safe Horizon’s Community Programs. The study focused on the first session between the survivor and the advocate. A pre-survey was conducted prior to the survivor meeting with the advocate and the post-survey was conducted immediately after the survivor completed his/her first session with the advocate.
Participants filled out MOVERS (Measure of Victim Empowerment Related to Safety; Goodman et al., 2014) before and immediately after the first session with the community-based advocate. MOVERS is a validated measure capturing the extent to which a survivor (a) has developed a set of safety-related goals and a belief in his/her ability to accomplish them, (b) perceives that s/he has the support s/he needs to move toward safety, and (c) senses that his/her actions toward safety will not cause new problems in other safety domains. The survivor-centeredness of the interaction was measured with the Survivor-Defined Practice Scale (SDPS; Goodman et al., 2016) which survivors completed immediately after the first session with a community-based advocate. The SDPS measures survivors’ perception of the degree to which their advocates helped them achieve goals they set for themselves, facilitate a spirit of partnership, and show sensitivity to their individual needs and styles.
The preliminary results showed that (1) Survivors who received services from this survivor-centered agency reported improved safety-related empowerment following one advocacy session; and (2) The more survivor-centered the advocacy, the greater the improvement in victim empowerment related to safety.
This is the first study to examine the impact of survivor-centered practice with survivors of intimate partner violence over time. The preliminary data demonstrate that IPV survivors receiving one survivor-centered session with a community based advocate increases the survivor’s sense of safety-related empowerment, and specifically increases the survivor’s knowledge of community resources and options and increases the survivor’s sense of confidence in increasing his/her safety. This study provides evidence for the effectiveness of survivor-centered community-based advocacy and support.
Stay tuned to learn more about the results of this study. And check out the Policy & Research page to learn more about our work at Safe Horizon.