Historic Domestic Violence Report Released
Results from the first domestic violence survey in Kansas were released in September by Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius.
"We're thrilled that finally we have Kansas-specific data available," said Sandy Barnett, executive director of KCSDV. "It shows the positive impacts our member programs' services have on victims of domestic violence, but also demonstrates the great need for even more services in Kansas."
Completed by the Docking Institute of Public Affairs at Fort Hays State University in cooperation with the Governor Sebelius' Office, the survey assessed what domestic violence looks like in Kansas and the impact services have on victims.
Report's Policy Considerations
- Promote successes of victims who have used victim services
- Increase awareness of victim services
- Increase dissemination of brochures by law enforcement
- Address abuser's access to firearms
- Address transportation barriers
- Examine needs of large town domestic violence advocacy programs
- Reduce childcare barriers
- Educate children and teens
- Ensure health care benefits for victims
- Address the needs of the Hispanic community
- Address the needs of children raised in families with domestic violence abusers
The survey was made up of two parts - a telephone survey of the adult women in Kansas and a survey of domestic violence victims receiving services from domestic violence advocacy programs. All of these programs were KCSDV member programs.
Survey of Adult Kansas Women
Researchers administered a telephone survey to more than 2,500 adult Kansas women (aged 17 years and older) between May 2006 and January 2007. It found an overall domestic violence victimization rate of 10.1%. That means that ten percent of adult Kansas women were victims of physical, sexual, verbal, and/or controlling behavior abuse during this past year.
Extrapolating this percentage to the latest Census figures, an estimated 106,419 adult women in Kansas were victims of domestic violence in 2006.
More than 90% of Kansas women agreed or strongly agreed that domestic violence was a widespread statewide problem. Women also believed that domestic violence was the third most important women's health issue, ranking just behind cancer and heart disease.
"Advocates have always known that domestic violence affects all facets of life, including health," Barnett said. "But to have women rank it as the third most important health issue concerning them is disturbing."
Women reported experiencing physical, sexual and verbal abuse.
"This is striking because often people recognize physical assaults as the only type of domestic violence," Barnett said. "Advocates have long known that soul-numbing verbal abuse can have long-lasting, devastating effects."
Perhaps more striking is the fact that approximately one-third of all Kansas women currently know someone, not including themselves, who is a victim of domestic violence.
Victims' Services Survey
Women receiving shelter and advocacy services from one of the 24 domestic violence advocacy programs in Kansas were given a survey about the quality of the services and the impact services had on their lives. Two hundred fifty-six women completed the survey.
Victims reported high rates of satisfaction with services – more than 90% reported being "very satisfied" with one-on-one counseling, court preparation support and follow-up assistance.
"I'm pleased that victims report they're very satisfied with the advocacy services they have received," Barnett said. "It is a testament to the hard work and dedication among advocates across the state."
Victims also described how the services were helpful. The areas in which victims felt services were the most helpful were preparing them to make changes to improve their situation, helping them feel safer because of help received, and using skills they learned to improve their situation.
Since receiving domestic violence services, about 91% of victims indicated their situation had improved and approximately 86% reported that the amount of violence had decreased.
"This demonstrates how advocacy services can be life-changing and life-saving," Barnett said. "Advocacy services often provide a lifeline to safety for victims and their children."
The survey also demonstrates that domestic violence crosses all geographic barriers. Victims receiving services were nearly as likely to live in small towns (less than 10,000) as in mid-sized towns (10,000 to 50,000) and cities (more than 50,000).
"This shows that domestic violence is widespread and not unique to any one part of Kansas," Barnett said.
Even though victims highly rated advocacy services they received, three out of five victims reported that didn't know where to go to receive services when they first decided to get help.
"Obviously, we have a lot of work to do as a state to increase awareness of victims' services," Barnett said. "It will take the work of public and private sectors of our community to make this happen."
To access the survey visit www.governor.ks.gov/grants/policies/docs/DockingReport.pdf.