Office for Victims of Crime--Putting Victims First Rural Victim Assistance--A Victim/Witness Guide for Rural Prosecutors OJP seal
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Rural Community Dynamics
Victim/Witness Assistance in Rural Communities
Overcoming Challenges to Serving Rural Victims
   Geographic Isolation
   Overcoming Geographic
    Isolation

   Lack of Community
    Resources

   Overcoming Lack of
    Community Resources

   Lack of Internal
    Resources
   Overcoming Lack of
    Internal Resources

   Advocate Training, Education,
    and Professionalism

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

Although victims in rural areas need the same services as victims in urban areas, rural service providers must reach a population that is usually dispersed over large geographic areas. This distance between the victim and advocate is a barrier for a number of reasons:

  • Lack of public transportation such as buses, trains, or taxi services makes it difficult or impossible for the victim or witness to seek out the advocate.

  • Lack of funding and time may keep advocates from traveling to the victim or witness.

  • Lack of sufficient advertising media or public arenas in isolated areas makes it difficult for victim/witness providers to advertise their services to the people who may need them the most.

  • Poor means of communication (i.e., no mail or telephone service) make it difficult or impossible for the advocate to contact victims and witnesses or to deliver important information in a timely manner.

  • Fear or reluctance on the part of the victim or witness to travel to the city for help.

  • Lack of anonymity and confidentiality makes it difficult or potentially embarrassing for individuals to report their victimization (especially in domestic violence and sexual assault cases) (Grama 2000).

Nearly every office that participated in the APRI survey reported that geographic isolation impeded staff members' ability to provide services. Many offices also reported that too many victims were not aware of their services and, therefore, did not take advantage of them:

"Due to being a mostly rural jurisdiction, isolation is our biggest obstacle. In most parts of the county, it takes law enforcement 20 to 30 minutes to respond, so most people don't even bother to call."

"[The smaller county] is an hour away from . . . the larger metropolitan counties. Victims in [the smaller county] often lack the transportation and the knowledge regarding services available outside their county. Furthermore, they do not want to go to the big city for help."

"The barrier is getting the word out to the smaller communities about services and resources."

"We must constantly be sure that our victims are aware of the services available in adjoining counties, [that we] assist them in transportation to those services, and find ways to help fund the provision of services."


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