FFI has released How Do Survivors Define Success? A New Project to Address an Overlooked Question. This report describes FFI’s multi-year project in California, documenting how people who have experienced domestic violence define success for themselves, and how others in the domestic violence field define success for survivors. What we found calls into question many basic assumptions of the domestic violence field, and highlights important opportunities for strengthening systems’ response across California and nationwide.
- For the survivors in this project, domestic violence is not central to their identity, and success is not achieved through traditionally conceived pathways to safety. Only 7% of all survivor’s moments of success included leaving or altering the abusive relationship.
- In contrast, almost all of practitioner’s moments of survivor success involved making changes in the abusive relationship and 39% were about separation from an abusive partner.
- For survivors, success is about connection with family and friends, and achieving something that created value and worth for themselves and others. Moments of “achievement” were seldom related to leaving or making changes in the abusive relationship, and rarely happened in the context of formal services.
- Practitioners seem to over-emphasize the role of services and under-appreciate the importance of informal social connections in survivor success.
- For both survivors and practitioners, these findings hold true across geographic regions, and both culturally specific and mainstream communities. The practices and approaches characteristic of culturally specific programs, such as emphasizing working with the survivor’s whole family and even community members, are more relevant to mainstream communities than previously thought.
A central finding of this project is that the field must reexamine its fundamental assumptions and pivot quickly into new territory. Practitioners, in particular, are eager for this change and seek tangible and practical ways to better align program success with survivor-defined success and strengthen systems’ response accordingly. For more information contact Anna Melbin.
What people are saying about How Do Survivors Define Sucess?
A New Project to Address an Overlooked Question
The Full Frame Initiative has been conducting seminal research that will help the domestic violence field reframe how we think about survivors. The results of their project in California are also an important confirmation of the work that activists and researchers of color have been doing for the last three decades.
– Juan Carlos Areán, Senior Director, the National Latin@ Network for Healthy Families and Communities and Acting Director, Casa de Esperanza
The findings from this project truly begin to fill the gap in our understanding of how domestic violence survivors achieve success for themselves. What the Full Frame Initiative has contributed cannot be overstated, and now the entire field must capitalize on this new knowledge and take this crucial opportunity to adjust our responses and support to survivors accordingly.
– Debbie Lee, Senior Vice President, Futures Without Violence
Thanks to the Full Frame Initiative and all their project partners, we now have real and tangible information about how many domestic violence survivors achieve success for themselves. Success for survivors, like most of us, is about connections to family and friends and a deep sense of belonging, not access to formal services or even leaving the abusive relationship. Our collective challenge is to translate these findings into survivor-defined measures of program success.
– Anne Menard, Executive Director, National Resource Center on Domestic Violence