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Unique Nature of Domestic Violence in Rural Areas

NCJ Number
Forum Volume: 16 Issue: 2 Dated: June 1998 Pages: 1-9
S Orchowsky
Date Published
5 pages
Spouse abuse in rural areas is discussed in terms of its unique characteristics, particularly the impact of the physical isolation that is the defining characteristic of rural life.
About one-third of the population lives in rural areas, defined by the Census Bureau as towns with populations of less than 2,500 or areas of open countryside. Rural areas often lack the utilities taken for granted in urban areas, and rural women receive lower pay than women in urban areas. In addition, women's jobs often require traveling long distances to neighboring towns, while men are more likely to find work locally. Responsibility for delivering children to child care can also increase commuting time. Other factors are the seasonal nature of men's jobs and the generally conservative personal and political attitudes of rural populations. Studies have revealed the incidence of domestic assault to be similar in urban and rural areas. However, isolation, inadequate transportation and communication, the prevalence of guns in the home, social norms and values in rural communities, the nature of policing in rural areas, the lack of social and health care services, and inadequate housing all make it more difficult for rural battered women to deal effectively with the abuse. Policies that seem to have some success in dealing with battering in urban areas may have little applicability in rural areas. Therefore, different policies may be needed for rural areas. The Violence Against Women Act authorized grants for services for rural women and children who are victims of domestic violence. The Rural Program funds 46 programs in 32 states and will be the subject of a national evaluation to be funded by the National Institute of Justice. 13 references