Looking into the Day-To-Day Process of Victim Safety Planning
Although safety planning is a widely recommended intervention for domestic violence and sexual assault victims, there has been limited research on the safety planning process, content, context or effectiveness. This study builds on prior research to increase the understanding of safety planning in every day practice through focus group discussions with domestic violence and sexual assault advocates from a variety of settings. Five focus groups with 37 participants from a variety of settings discussed typical safety planning strategies and addressing the complexity of safety in challenging situations. Six main themes emerged with regard to typical safety planning strategies. Additionally, discussions revealed there are no widely accepted protocols or evidence-based strategies regarding how to assess and handle common but risky situations. Lastly, results indicate that risks are multi-layered and impacted by resources available to victims as well as civil or criminal justice system procedures, policies and victim status. It is essential that evidence based best practices and protocols be developed for safety planning for a number of high risk situations along with ongoing training, supervision and support. Future research is needed to examine whether, and how, safety planning best practices and protocols should differ depending on agency setting or delivery mode (e.g., hotline, case management, counseling) and geographic context.
The authors would like to thank the participants and the Department of Behavioral Science at the University of Kentucky for funding this research. The authors would also like to thank Jaime Miller for her help with analysis and editing.
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