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Rural Community Dynamics
Victim/Witness Assistance in Rural Communities
Overcoming Challenges to Serving Rural Victims
   Geographic Isolation
   Overcoming Geographic

   Lack of Community

   Overcoming Lack of
    Community Resources

   Lack of Internal
   Overcoming Lack of
    Internal Resources

   Advocate Training, Education,
    and Professionalism

   Needs of Specific Populations
Promising Practices in Rural Prosecutors' Offices
Supplementary Material

Lack of Community Resources

To be successful, any victim assistance program must have access to external resources. In rural areas with far fewer community resources, however, advocates have trouble finding shelters in or near rural areas and locating safe and secure locations for counseling groups and for meeting with victims and witnesses. Although large urban areas have their pick of service providers such as law enforcement offices, large medical facilities, prosecutor-based programs, and domestic violence and sexual assault programs, many rural communities are bereft of valuable and necessary service providers (Sifferd 1998).

Of the rural prosecutors' offices surveyed, more than 54 percent responded that they did not have adequate community resources for victim referrals. Of the 46 percent who reported that their communities did have adequate resources, many listed services that actually were in neighboring jurisdictions and far from the victims' homes. This is a problem when victims are unwilling to travel because of monetary concerns or simply from distrust of and unfamiliarity with the larger community. Many survey respondents voiced their concerns about the lack of community resources locally and how this lack affects their ability to provide services to crime victims:

"When we need the use of a support group, there is nowhere to send the victims who are having problems. It is the victims that face the challenges, which then affects our cases. [There is] inadequate public transportation, an inadequate number of childcare resources, and lengthy response time to rural calls by law enforcement."

The following table lists the number of community services available by type, as reported by rural offices.

Percentage of Resources in Rural Jurisdictions by Number of Existing Programs

Type of Community Service
Type of Community Service
Number of Existing Programs in Jurisdiction Domestic Violence Shelter Rape/Sexual Assault Crisis Center Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner Program Mental Health Counseling Crime Victim Support Groups
Zero 29.17% 66.67% 62.50% 26.09% 82.61%
One 66.67% 29.17% 33.33% 43.48% 8.70%
Two 4.17% 4.17% 4.17% 0.00% 4.35%
Three or more 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 30.43% 4.35%

Note: Many of these services are located in jurisdictions other than the respondents'.

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