New Toolkit Helps Practitioners Assist Domestic Violence Survivors

Michigan Coalition Against Domestic ViolenceA new toolkit from the Michigan Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence aims to address the barriers incarcerated and formerly incarcerated survivors of domestic violence face when they attempt to get help.

“Best Practice Toolkit for Working with Domestic Violence Survivors with Criminal Histories” was created as part of the Michigan Open Doors Project, which focuses on incarcerated and formerly incarcerated survivors and is supported by a 3-year grant from the Family and Youth Services Bureau’s Family Violence Prevention and Services Program.  Designed for direct service workers who are interested in how domestic violence and the criminal legal system overlap, the toolkit gives practical tips for assisting any person who has a history of intimate partner violence and has been charged or convicted of a crime. 

Survivors often have histories of childhood physical and sexual abuse, mental health concerns, substance abuse problems, and criminal histories. Yet despite the fact that the criminal legal system and domestic violence agencies often serve the same people, there is little collaboration between the two fields, the authors say. The toolkit is meant to bridge that gap.

The toolkit looks at

  • how domestic violence may impact women before, during and after incarceration
  • how to advocate for domestic violence survivors across the different stages of the criminal legal system
  • what criminal legal professionals need to know about working with domestic violence survivors
  • how to understand and address system-level barriers for women after incarceration
  • how to enhance collaboration between the criminal legal and domestic violence sectors

It also lists resources for helping women stay free and safe. 

“The Michigan Coalition is doing very important work,” says Marylouise Kelley, director of the Family Violence Prevention and Services Program.  “Their toolkit offers trauma-informed, evidence-based guidance for how best to support survivors who have experienced intimate partner violence and have been involved in the legal system. This knowledge will translate into more effective services for survivors of domestic violence.”

Read “Best Practice Toolkit for Working with Domestic Violence Survivors with Criminal Histories” (PDF, 1.5MB).