Effects in Rural America

Rural Communities

Rural Outreach

Escaping Domestic Violence

Common Barriers in Rural Areas:

Geography: Most people live miles from their closest neighbor, meaning shouts for help could be impossible to hear. And, when a call to the police is made, the response time may be longer, increasing the lethality of the assault. Moreover, it’s not uncommon for cell phone and Internet service to be spotty in remote areas.

Lack of Anonymity and Support: “People in rural communities tend to know more about what’s going on in their communities, and cultural barriers can include the inability to keep the effort private and concern over being judged (whether real or perceived),” says Peek-Asa. Simply put, most everyone knows everyone, including police officers, judges and firefighters, increasing the chances that the officer who was called for help knows the survivor or the abuser. And, in some areas, newspapers print the names of people making domestic violence calls and filing protective orders. Peek-Asa also says it’s important to note, “Rural counties often have part-time judges or magistrates, so hearing for things like protective orders might not occur as swiftly.”

Limited Resources: Traditional gender roles are fairly common in rural areas and many families support themselves by farming—leaving could eliminate a source of income. Additionally, there tend to be fewer economic opportunities, and some rural areas suffer from high levels of poverty, making it difficult to offer services such as domestic violence shelters. “It takes resources and support to leave an abusive partner, and these are often harder to access in a rural community,” says Corinne Peek-Asa, professor, associate dean at University of Iowa and author of, Rural Disparity in Domestic Violence Prevalence and Access to Resources. “A study we conducted found that a quarter of the rural women in Iowa lived more than 40 miles from the closest domestic violence intervention program.”

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