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Program Profile: Community Advocacy Project

Evidence Rating: Promising - More than one study Promising - More than one study

Date: This profile was posted on June 15, 2011

Program Summary

A 10-week community- and strengths-based advocacy intervention for women with abusive partners. The program is rated Promising. There were mixed results on social support satisfaction and reported reabuse between the treatment and control group. One study reported no statistically significant group differences on continued involvement with the assailant. Overall, participants were more effective in obtaining and seeking resources, had a better quality of life and psychological well-being.

Program Description

Program Goals

The Community Advocacy Project is a community-based advocacy intervention for women leaving domestic violence shelter programs. Its main goals are to improve access to community resources and increase social support available to women starting a new life after leaving abusive partners. By improving availability and access of support services, the women’s quality of life would increase and could potentially help keep women from future abuse. Community resources include items such as employment, legal and financial assistance, housing, and child care.

 

Program Theory

This intervention comes from a strength-based model in which the assumption is that people are talented, knowledgeable, and capable of helping themselves through hard times as well as quick to recover from hardship.

 

Program Components

Stemming from the strengths-based model, the Community Advocacy Project concentrates on enhancing a woman’s strengths and talents while getting the community involved in providing resources and opportunities for success. Advocates are required to follow strict guidelines that concentrate on a woman’s strengths rather than her weaknesses, on issues that are important to her rather than to the professional, and on making the community responsive to her needs by working with each woman in her environment and teaching her skills to increase the chance for success.

 

Key Personnel

A key aspect of the Community Advocacy Project is that trained and supervised paraprofessionals are just as capable as licensed professionals when they provide women with these types of services.

 

Program Activities

There are five phases of the 10-week project participation: assessment, implementation, monitoring, secondary implementation, and termination. Advocates meet weekly with the women for 4 to 6 hours. Although defined for clarification, these phases are not separate from one another but are ongoing and they sometimes overlap throughout the intervention period.

 

During the assessment phase, advocates get to know the woman and her friends (including romantic partners) and family members. Advocates also collect information on her specific needs and goals. The implementation phase begins the process of connecting the woman to the appropriate community resources available to her to meet previously established needs. Referrals and personal contacts to various community resources are made during this process. After community referrals are made, the monitoring phase serves to supervise the progress and quality of the resources in serving the woman’s needs. If any adjustments are needed, the secondary implementation phase is initiated to reanalyze what services are needed for success. Finally, the termination phase begins around the seventh week of the project. During the final phase, the advocate reemphasizes the newfound knowledge and skills the woman has learned so she can continue accessing resources on her own.

Evaluation Outcomes

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Study 1

Social Support

Structural social support. Tan and colleagues (1995) found that at all 3 time periods the most common source of support mentioned was family and friends. There were no differences between the treatment and control groups. At the initial interview, women identified 7.39 individuals across the different areas of social support. That number decreased to 7.27 at postintervention and increased to 7.73 at 6-month follow-up, although the change was not significant. Women mentioned 1.36 individuals who provided various kinds of support at shelter exit, 1.42 at postintervention, and 1.82 at 6-month follow-up. But there were no significant differences between the treatment and control groups. Upon exiting the shelter, women reported having an average of 2.69 close friends, which significantly increased for the treatment group to 3.22, compared with 2.34 for the control group. There were no significant differences between groups at the 6-month follow-up.

 

Functional social support. At the shelter exit interview, the mean social support quantity and quality satisfaction scale score was a 4.74 (where 1=terrible and 7=extremely pleased). By postintervention, mean satisfactions increased to 5.10 and remained at 5.12 at 6-month follow-up. At shelter exit, there was no significant difference for social support satisfaction between treatment and control groups, but at postintervention the treatment group women were significantly more satisfied with their perceived social support while the control group stayed relatively the same. By the 6-month follow-up, however, treatment group satisfaction decreased slightly while the control group increased slightly.

 

Relationship With Assailant

Before entering the shelter, 84 percent of the women were involved with their assailant, compared with 35 percent at shelter exit. At postintervention, 40 percent of the women continued involvement with their assailant, decreasing to 34 percent at 6-month follow-up. There were no significant differences between treatment and control. Women were more likely to continue involvement with their assailants if they had mentioned the men as a source of support.

 

Further Abuse

At postintervention follow-up, 49 percent of the women had experienced further psychological abuse, while 46 percent had experienced further physical abuse. By the 6-month follow-up, 56 percent reported continued psychological abuse and 44 percent reported further physical abuse. There were no significant differences between treatment and control groups. Women in the control group who experienced further abuse postintervention were significantly less satisfied with their social support, but by the 6-month follow-up the differences were no longer significant.

 

Psychological Well-Being

Women who were satisfied with their social support were more likely to be pleased with their lives and to be less depressed.

 

Effectiveness of Obtaining Resources

At postintervention, satisfaction with social support had a significant positive effect on women’s perceived effectiveness in obtaining needed resources. Treatment women reported being significantly more effective in obtaining resources than control women did. All the women in the treatment group who wanted to work on social support reported being able to do so, while only 67 percent of the control group reported this. This difference between groups was significant.

 

Study 2

Social Support

Bybee and Sullivan (2002) reported that at postintervention advocacy women reported satisfaction with their social support as a 5.44 (with 1=terrible and 7=extremely pleased). This decreased slightly at the 12-month follow-up but returned to 5.44 at the 24-month follow-up. Women in the control group who received no services first reported a 4.77, and their satisfaction rate increased through the 24-month follow-up. Advocacy women rated the quality of their social support at postintervention 5.52, which decreased to 5.47 by the 24-month follow-up. Control women reported a satisfaction of 4.88, which increased to 5.33 by the 24-month follow-up.

 

Overall satisfaction with social support postintervention was 5.34 for advocacy women compared with 4.70 for the women who received no services. At the 12-month follow-up, the advocacy women decreased to 5.26, while the control women increased to 5.09. At the final 24-month follow-up, the satisfaction rating for advocacy women increased to a 5.45 satisfaction rate, while control women slightly increased to 5.10.

 

Resources

At postintervention, advocacy women reported the effectiveness of obtaining resources a 3.25 (on a scale of 1=very ineffective and 4=very effective). Control women, by contrast, reported an effectiveness rate of 2.69. At the 12-month follow-up, both advocacy and control women reported difficulty obtaining resources as 2.24. By 24 months it had decreased to 2.01 and 2.18, respectively. On the satisfaction with resources, advocacy women at the 12-month follow-up reported a 2.51, while the control women reported a 2.56. These increased at 24-months to 2.72 for advocacy women and 2.58 for control women.

 

Advocacy women reported having been more effective in obtaining resources at postintervention and reported greater access to resources at 24 months, but there were no significant effects of advocacy on resources at 12 months.

 

Quality of Life

The intervention made a significant impact on reported quality of life at the 12-month follow-up but was not significant at any other time period. Improved quality of life continued over time and helped explain the intervention’s positive effects on social support at 12 months and access to resources and reabuse at 24 months.

 

Reabuse

Based on the Conflict Tactics Scale, women reported incidents of violence at postintervention as 1.21, which increased slightly to 1.22 before dropping to 1.18. Control women reported incidents of violence, respectively, as 1.25, 1.29, and 1.18. On the Frequency/Severity Scale of Violence (where 0=no violence and 3=high frequency severe abuse), advocacy women reported at postintervention a score of 0.80, while control women reported a 1.08. At 12 months, advocacy women reported a slight increase to 0.88, while the control women reported a decrease in severity to 0.98. Finally, at the 24-month follow-up, advocacy women reported 0.61 and control women 0.86. When researchers looked at frequency (with 1=never and 6=more than 4 times a week), advocacy women reported 1.71 at postintervention, increasing to 1.80 at 12 months and decreasing to 1.55 at 24 months. Control women reported 1.87 at postintervention, which increased to 1.99 at 12 months before dropping to 1.76 at 24 months.

 

There was a significant effect on reabuse at postintervention but no significant direct effect on reabuse at the 12-month follow-up.

 

Study 3

Types of Resources

Women reported to Allen, Bybee, and Sullivan (2004) that they wanted mostly to work on material goods and services (86 percent), health-related issues (77 percent), increasing the level of social support (77 percent), and school-related issues (72 percent) such as obtaining a GED or attending college or trade school. Women also wanted to address financial needs (68 percent), transportation needs (66 percent), obtaining employment (60 percent), and legal issues (59 percent).

 

Activity Levels in Obtaining Resources

Overall, advocacy women engaged in a greater number of activities to address education needs, legal issues, and acquiring material goods and services. Control women in the high-activity cluster engaged in significantly greater activities to address child care and issues related to their children than women did who had received advocacy services.

 

Effectiveness in Obtaining Resources

Women who received advocacy services were more effective in accessing community resources than were the control women, with the mean level of effectiveness for advocacy women 3.26 and for control 2.71. Mean level of effectiveness was significantly greater for advocacy women in all clusters except for the high-activity cluster. Women who received advocacy services did not differ from control women in the high-activity cluster.

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Evaluation Methodology

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Study 1

Tan and colleagues (1995) recruited 146 women from a domestic violence shelter in a Midwestern city to test the efficacy of the Community Advocacy Project. The final sample consisted of 141 women who were eligible (they had stayed at the shelter at least 1 night and had not moved out of the general area). Participants were randomly assigned to either receive free services of trained advocates for the first 10 weeks after leaving the shelter (n= 71) or no services at all (n= 70). Participants were interviewed upon leaving the shelter, after the intervention period (10 weeks), and 6 months postintervention.

 

Advocates were female undergraduates from a large Midwestern university who earned college credit for their participation. They were trained on information regarding the prevalence and severity of woman battering and the difficulties women face after leaving a shelter. They received empathy training and also were trained to generate and mobilize many different community resources. The intervention consisted of the participant and the advocate meeting 4 to 6 hours a week over 10 weeks. Advocates assess the women’s unmet needs and provide them access with the resources to fulfill those needs. The intervention was not only to provide women with support but to also to increase and expand their own social network (if desired).

 

Relationship with assailant was measured by asking the current level of involvement as a) married and living together; b) living together, unmarried; c) romantically involved, not living together; or d) dating. Social support was assessed both in the functional and structural senses. Functional social support was measured using a nine-item scale to measure women’s satisfaction with perceived quantity and quality of overall social support as well as in four specific domains of support: a) companionship, b) advice and information, c) practical assistance, and d) emotional support. To assess structural support the study asked women to list people with whom they spent time, could count on for advice, and could be depended on for help. Experience of physical abuse was measured using the Conflict Tactics Scale. Psychological well-being was assessed using a 25-item modified quality-of-life measure. Effectiveness in obtaining resources was measured only at postintervention and concentrated on the following areas:

 

  • Housing
  • Material goods and resources
  • Education
  • Employment
  • Health
  • Child care
  • Transportation
  • Social support
  • Legal assistance
  • Finances
  • Issues reading the children

Study 2

Bybee and Sullivan (2002) recruited and randomly assigned 278 women from a Midwestern domestic violence shelter to either the advocacy intervention group (n= 143) or the control group (n= 135), which received no services at all. The mean age was 29, and 74 percent of the women had at least one child living with them. The mean length of stay at the shelter was 19 days. Forty-two percent of the women (42 percent) had been living with, but were not married to, the abusive partner.

 

To be eligible, women had to spend at least 1 night at the shelter, agree to stay in the area for the first 3 months after leaving the shelter, and agree to participate at least 3 weeks in the study. Women in the advocacy intervention group received free advocacy services through the Community Advocacy Project for 10 weeks immediately postshelter, for about 4 to 6 hours a week. All participants were interviewed six times in 2 years: within a week of leaving the shelter, at 10 weeks postshelter, and then 6, 12, 18, and 24 months later.

 

 

Survey scales looked at the quantity and quality of social support as perceived by participants, effectiveness in obtaining resources, difficulty obtaining resources, satisfaction with resources, self-reported quality of life, and reabuse by partner or expartner.

 

Study 3

Allen, Bybee, and Sullivan (2004) used the same sample population as Bybee and Sullivan (2002) but looked at the variety of needs women with abusive partners reported after they left the domestic shelter and what they did to address those needs. They looked into whether the degree to which advocacy affected access to resources depended on the patterns of needs women requested.

 

At the first interview, researchers looked at types of resources needed by selecting from the following list:

 

  • Housing
  • Education
  • Employment
  • Transportation
  • Legal assistance
  • Health care
  • Social support
  • Financial assistance
  • Materials goods and services
  • Child care
  • Issues for their children

They were also asked if they had other needs not listed.

 

Postintervention women were asked to identify what actions they took to access resources they had said they needed. Activity level scores were created by totaling the number of activities women engaged in to access needs, ranging between 0 and 7. Researchers also looked at the effectiveness in obtaining resources by asking women—on a scale of 1=very ineffective and 4=very effective, then calculating the mean score from all areas—how effective they had been in obtaining the resources they required to fulfill their needs.

 

Researchers then used cluster analysis to group women by their pattern of activity to access community resources. Women in the housing cluster engaged in a significantly greater range of activities to access housing. In the low-activity cluster, women engaged in the lowest range of activities and had no specific areas of greatest need. The legal cluster was made up of women who were significantly more involved in accessing legal resources and had high activity levels in housing needs and children’s issues. Women in the education/employment cluster concentrated mainly on education and employment needs, while also concentrating on financial assistance. The high-activity cluster had high activity levels in many different areas of need.

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Cost

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There is no cost information available for this program.
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Evidence-Base (Studies Reviewed)

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These sources were used in the development of the program profile:

Study 1
Tan, Cheribeth, Joanne Basta, Cris M. Sullivan, and William S. Davidson II. 1995. “The Role of Social Support in the Lives of Women Exiting Domestic Violence Shelters: An Experimental Study.” Journal of Interpersonal Violence 10(4):437–51.

Study 2
Bybee, Deborah I., and Cris M. Sullivan. 2002. “The Process Through Which an Advocacy Intervention Resulted in Positive Change for Battered Women Over Time.” American Journal of Community Psychology 30(1):103–32.

Study 3
Allen, Nicole E., Deborah I. Bybee, and Cris M. Sullivan. 2004. “Battered Women’s Multitude of Needs: Evidence Supporting the Need for Comprehensive Advocacy.” Violence Against Women 10(9):1015–35.
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Additional References

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These sources were used in the development of the program profile:

Bybee, Deborah I., and Cris M. Sullivan. 2005. “Predicting Re-Victimization of Battered Women 3 Years After Exiting a Shelter Program.” American Journal of Community Psychology 36(1&2):85–96.

Sullivan, Cris M. 1991. “The Provision of Advocacy Services to Women Leaving Abusive Partners: An Exploratory Study.” Journal of Interpersonal Violence 6(1):41–54.

Sullivan, Cris M., and Deborah I. Bybee. 1999. “Reducing Violence Using Community-Based Advocacy for Women With Abusive Partners.” Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology 67(1):43–53.

Sullivan, Cris M., Deborah I. Bybee, and Nicole E. Allen. 2002. “Findings From a Community-Based Program for Battered Women and Their Children.” Journal of Interpersonal Violence 17(9):915–36.

Sullivan, Cris M., and Maureen H. Rumptz. 1994. “Adjustment and Needs of African-American Women Who Utilized a Domestic Violence Shelter.” Violence and Victims 9(3):275–86.
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Related Practices

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Following are CrimeSolutions.gov-rated practices that are related to this program:

Advocacy Interventions for Women Who Experience Intimate Partner Violence
Advocacy interventions aim to empower women who have experienced intimate partner violence and link them to helpful services in the community. The practice is rated Effective for reducing domestic/intimate partner violence. Women who received services through advocacy interventions experienced significantly less physical abuse, compared with women in the control groups, at 12- to 24-month follow-up periods.

Evidence Ratings for Outcomes:
Effective - One Meta-Analysis Victimization - Domestic/intimate partner/family violence
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Program Snapshot

Age: 17 - 61

Gender: Female

Race/Ethnicity: Black, American Indians/Alaska Native, Asian/Pacific Islander, Hispanic, White, Other

Geography: Urban

Setting (Delivery): Residential (group home, shelter care, nonsecure), Other Community Setting

Program Type: Gender-Specific Programming, Shelter Care, Victim Programs, Violence Prevention

Targeted Population: Females, Victims of Crime

Current Program Status: Active

Listed by Other Directories: National Registry of Evidence-based Programs and Practices

Program Developer:
Cris M. Sullivan
Professor
Community Psychology, Michigan State University
130 Psychology Building
East Lansing MI 48824-1116
Phone: 517-353-8867
Fax: 517-353-8867
Website
Email

Training and TA Provider:
Cris M. Sullivan
Professor
Community Psychology, Michigan State University
130 Psychology Building
East Lansing MI 48824-1116
Phone: 517.353.8867
Fax: 517-353-8867
Website
Email

Training and TA Provider:
Adrienne Adams
Assistant Professor
Community Psychology, Michigan State University
Psychology Building
East Lansing MI 48824-1116
Phone: 517.353.4568
Website
Email