One-Stop Crisis Centres

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49en_vio ... Violence


One-Stop Crisis Centres

Source: End Violence List (1999)


   UK and internationally: Liz Kelly Child and woman Abuse Studies Unit
  Sexual Assault Specialty Centre: Linda Light - British Columbia
  Model for a comprehensive response to domestic violence: Jillian Meyers-Brittain
  In armed conflict/refugee camps: Linda Israel
  SAFE Homes of Augusta : Nancy Nelson: a shelter and comprehensive program for victims of domestic violence
  South Africa Owner It may be necessary to place one-stop crisis centres where ever the greater number of women are served


UK and internationally

From: Liz Kelly

Just some thoughts and reflections on the 'one stop shop' discussion from my knowledge in the UK and internationally.

1. Here in the UK the idea has taken off with respect to domestic violence (we only have one 24 hour sexual assault centre), and especially the research finding that women make 10-15 agency contacts before they get effective help, and that they often have to access a number of services before they can sort out their situations. The idea, therefore, from an institutional level is to provide all the contacts she needs in one place, and thus be more effective. But what is 'unhelpful' to women is often the perspective and attitude of the agency worker. So having seven unhelpful people in the same place, for instance, will make no difference at all.

What we have found is that agencies are too focused on physical violence and women leaving, and think that all they have to do is provide information and options. Whereas what women want is someone who will listen, who will help them make sense of their confusions and ambivalences. For some women just naming the violence is a huge step, for others the barrier to change is believing that they deserve something better. So for me the most important thing we need are projects based in communities which support women, which begin from where she is, and which include advocacy with systems on women's behalf if that is what they need, or which enable women to advocate for themselves.

I sometimes think we have got so fixed on improving and co-ordinating systems that we have forgotten women, and the complexities of their stories and lives. In two evaluations we have done of services what women say when asked what made a difference for them is not any of this system co-ordination stuff, it is simple basic things: that the service named the violence; that they got a strong message it wasn't their fault; and that they deserved something better. Also that there was someone who kept in touch with them, and that there was support available by phone out of hours. So part of what women are saying here is that they were treated with dignity and respect, like a human being, who has complicated and changing needs. But within that there were also very clear messages about violence.

One of my big questions about the 'one stop shop' idea is whose needs are being met here - those of women and children, or of services to show how responsive and co-ordinated they are?

2. I also think we need to reflect on the fact that women could never arrive at a service with a shopping list of all their needs, and then be able to tick them off one by one. What she perceives her needs to be depends on what options there are - and she may not know this. And her needs change as her context changes - so issues about child custody may not be an issue at first, but become one later. Or issues about the impacts on her are not an issue when needing crisis intervention, but maybe some time down the line. Some women only tell about abuse they experienced as a child or young woman much later.

The question here for me is how far do services reflect on whether they are based on what we currently know about the processes - short and long term - of coping with violence.

3. As to the enquiry about a team located in a police station our evaluation of one such scheme has just been published by the Home Office in the UK. It is called Domestic Violence Matters: An Evaluation of a Development Project (Research Study 193). Copies can be obtained from Information and Publications Group Room 201, Home Office, 50 Queen Anne's Gate London SW1H 9AT. It is also available on the Internet somewhere on the Home Office site - probably in the research and statistics section (sorry I can't be more helpful here - the letter with the site address has gone missing).

4. About 'holistic' responses I increasingly think that in the West we have (mostly) very narrow ideas about what this means. In India it almost always includes training and employment projects, micro-credit and also in some projects participatory aspects and political action. In Spain they are developing neighbourhood women's centres as a model to address all forms of violence against women (both because they are often linked in women's lived experience, but also to avoid duplication of services), but without making this totally explicit. So women can come for legal advice, health care, employment information without having to declare that they have experienced/are experiencing abuse.

5. Having done some international work recently I don't think we are ready for the online project yet. Many of the things many of us in the west take for granted about responses to violence are just not applicable in other contexts. For example, in many developing countries the police are corrupt - because they are paid so little. So a small bribe will ensure that papers disappear or are lost, or a perpetrator is released from jail. It can also take years (literally) for rape or domestic violence cases to reach court.

I think online connections have many potentials, but they would have to begin within country/region if it was about providing advice and options on current cases/situations.

In sisterhood and struggle,

Liz Kelly
Child and woman Abuse Studies Unit
University of North London


One-Stop Crisis Centres
From: Linda Light

Re: one-stop crisis centres for women who are victims of violence. Can someone clarify for me the kinds of personnel who staff these? Are they NGO's only? Often when we speak of one-stop centres in Canada we are talking about a multi-disciplinary effort, including victim service workers, counsellors, health care providers, police, and lawyers. So there would not be the problem of medical or legal advice not being available when it is needed. Medical personnel are accustomed to being 'on-call', police are available usually on a 24-hr a day basis anyway, and in most cases it would probably be fine to wait until morning to get legal advice. We don't have any working models for this in British Columbia but continue to discuss it as a possibility.

We did a preliminary study on such an approach in relation to sexual assault a few years ago (we called it a Sexual Assault Specialty Centre): The findings of that study were mixed. All respondents wanted more communication and coordination among the various disciplines/service providers, but very few at that point were willing to pursue the notion of a comprehensive one-stop shop where service providers from each of the disciplines were actually housed.

We continue to work hard to increase coordination among the various players at the policy level and the local level, including supporting local coordinating committees (Victim services, police, Crown counsel, corrections, health, social services etc) who coordinate local responses to violence against women in relationships (VAWIR) and sexual assault. We have a comprehensive VAWIR policy for the criminal justice system, and one soon to be approved for sexual assault, which forms a framework around which these committees come together.

Coordination continues to be a challenge, however, and in some communities more than others. A one-stop centre would certainly address many of the coordination difficulties communities face (like referral, lack of knowledge of each other's mandate and way of working, mistrust based on lack of familiarity, 'turf' issues based on lack of 'joint ownership' of the issue,s etc.) and of course would greatly simplify things for victims. Although we know it would take a lot of energy and commitment, and money (at least initially, to set it up), I would still like to try at least a pilot somewhere, at some point, with a community that is keen to try it.

So, if anyone has a successful example of the kind of one-stop centre that I am talking about, I would really appreciate anything that you could share with me on how it was set up (how the local players were convinced that it would be worthwhile) and how it works.

As always, thank you for all the information that everyone is sharing.

Linda Light Victim Services Division Ministry of Attorney General Province of British Columbia Canada


One-Stop Crisis Centres
From: Jillian Meyers-Brittain

As is Linda Light, I am very interested in any models or ideas the End-Violence Group may have on a holistic response to in particular domestic violence. I have recently organised an interagency meeting with both Government and Non-Government Agencies, at the request of one of the Local Area Commanders (Police) in my area, to gauge the interest in regards to a pilot or model for a comprehensive response to domestic violence either alone the lines of a 24 hour crisis team located with police which would respond with or immediately after police had completed their investigation or a team that would respond within 24 hours of a domestic violence response by police.

We are currently researching funding options and the development of a model. All agencies are keen to be involved. Any information, assistance etc would be greatly appreciated.

Yours in Safety,
Jillian Meyers-Brittain


One-Stop Crisis Centres
in armed conflict/refugee camps

From: Linda Israel

Perhaps it depends on the definition of one-stop crisis centers. Like Janice, I am interested in an Internet-based process, as adjunct to whatever other services are offered. I think that we have not tapped the potential for web-based access to resources, including videoconferencing, as another vehicle for discussion and support. Of course, this does not replace face-to-face connection, but it will have other benefits.

As a coordinated web-based network, our approach allows for gradual additions of video, audio, etc, as interest and bandwidth increases at each site. We have been focusing on the development of systems which include harvesting of content for radio, satellite broadcasts to student audiences, and (where possible) cable television distribution. This has taken several years to figure out and has been an awkward process. Now, the reality is getting closer.

Our vision and experimentation supports a combination-use of tech tools to bring the needs of women in crisis to wider audiences for immediate aid, coordination with NGOs, influencing of policymakers and to bring the realities of armed conflict and its impact to student and other audiences (International Women's Roundtable,

We are meeting with Cisco Systems and Hewlett Packard over the next two weeks toward their sponsorship of multimedia centers with video cameras and broadcast capability, as a prototype adaptable to refugee settings, and an enhancement to already existing technology centers in armed conflict, refugee settings.

This project has been developing a web-based "matrix" for content which would allow women to put forward their information and needs in a structure which is accessible to potential supporters and which makes more visible the similarities, and differences, between these women's experiences and perspectives related to war and displacement in their regions.

We are in the process of building this infrastructure design on the databases, developed during the UN conferences of the 1990s, for more coordinated outreach and specific support (

So, getting back to immediate needs--is it practical to factor in telemedicine? Friends at the University of Washington School of Medicine, and Georgia Tech Advanced Telecommunication Research Institute are interested in helping us develop a distance learning, medical aid program. I am interested in this, both for aid to refugees and for demonstrating (in ways that people can grasp?) the human costs of war.

How can we most effectively use these tools to raise the combined voices of refugee women in regards to equitable distribution of humanitarian aid?

Something else-I have recently heard that Kosovar girls are starting to show up in other regions, trafficked out of refugee camps. I know this is true in other regions. I phoned a friend at Lucent Technologies, asking if their data collection systems could be adapted to refugee settings, for the purpose of focusing entirely on girls and young women. (again, as adjunct to existing data collection by Red Cross, UNHCR, and others). He was interested and wants to look into this further with those who might enlighten him on these needs and this application.

He went on to suggest that they could create an "interface" system, where girls/women could call toll-free, from anywhere in the world, to say where they were. Of course, this may be a far-out idea. However, what do you all think? Does such a data collection-international call-in system exist already? If not, is it an idea worth pursuing, which could be tied in to existing cooperative efforts against trafficking? Could this be adapted as another technology component in women's one-stop crisis centers?

I am very glad to be part of this discussion!

-Linda Hawkin Israel International Women's Roundtable project


One-Stop Crisis Centres
SAFE Homes of Augusta

From: Nancy Nelson

I am the Director of SAFE Homes of Augusta, Inc. a shelter and comprehensive program for victims of domestic violence in Augusta, Georgia, USA. We service a 13 county area, and, in several of our outlying areas, have set up a program that works in conjunction with police/sheriff's departments to offer the one-stop crisis type support services which are being discussed. This program is working particularly effectively in one of our counties where a member of our staff serves as a team member of their domestic violence unit. She culls through every report filed, as does our outreach coordinator by the way in other of our outlying counties but not as a team member with those offices. Each victim identified in the police reports is contacted as quickly as possible and arrangements made to visit with her either in her home, at her place of employment, the sheriff's office or another neutral location depending on what best meets the need for the victim.

At those interviews, an assessment is done to determine what might best help the victim and includes information and referral, domestic violence education, legal assistance and support in obtaining whatever criminal or civil remedies the victim may choose to avail herself of and a safety plan prepared. Additionally the victim and her children may receive parenting assistance, information about and encouragement to attend support groups, help in obtaining transportation and financial assistance services and whatever else the victim may need. Follow-up visits continue as long as necessary to empower her to become independent and self-sufficient. The program has been very successful and has enabled the Agency to take a more proactive approach to aiding victims -- unlike our earlier approach of merely hoping the victim found her way to making contact with us on her own.

While our Outreach Coordinator and Unit Liaison are paid staff, the potential is there to utilize trained volunteers to perform similar functions. I do have to add however that what has made this approach the most successful has been finding Sheriffs who are ready to accept that old approaches don't work and willingness to take a stand against domestic violence in their communities. I think that our continuous offerings of education to Sheriffs' Offices and our constant positive reinforcement in the form of appreciation efforts to departments and officers who did do the right thing as well as offering criticism to departments about specific officers and incidents that were poorly handled went a long way to helping us form this beneficial partnership with our local law enforcement teams.

I think the one-stop approach is a terrific concept and certainly helps those victims who need the support assurances and assistance in tying into programs and services that can help her stabilize and start over successfully.

Nancy C. Nelson


South Africa Owner end-violence
05-99 Qiyamah

This reply comes regarding your inquiries about one-stop crisis centres. One of the replies talked about hospital based and community based. It may be necessary to place one-stop crisis centres where ever the greater number of women are served.

Dear Mmabatho and other members

This reply comes regarding your inquiries about one-stop crisis centres. One of the replies talked about hospital based and community based. It may be necessary to place one-stop crisis centres where ever the greater number of women are served. That in some instances might be police stations. We know the greater majority of women tend not to take action, but when they do they have to file reports. I notice in Capetown to file an interdict one can go to the police station or to places like women's centers. Even the local law clinic at the University of Capetown provided services. In Georgia (USA) we have victim witness programs housed at the court where the district attorney's office is. In the past the woman would have to go to the police department and to the district attorney's office to lay a charge. Some victim witness programs have special training in domestic violence to assist women coming to them. Some police departments have special domestic violence units. When this is the case the shelter worker will come over from the shelter and check the files everyday to follow up on any domestic violence cases. So it is not the woman doing the running around but the agencies follow up. Had she needed shelter at that time the shelter would have been contacted, given the info and a decision would be made if she were eligible. If so she would be transported by a shelter worker to the shelter. Some places allow the police to bring the woman and others she is picked up at the police station by shelter workers. In other places a police is assigned to the shelter. Some shelters have nurses that are assigned by the local public health department.

I can appreciate what was said about the hospital based and community based one-stop crisis centres. Much depends on what kinds of relationships exist between your agency and others. A one-stop requires a "memorandum of agreement" about what each agency involved will do. That is hard to accomplish if there is no prior working relationship of collaboration. Putting together a committee comprised of representatives from all these agencies and developing a "one-stop crisis centre" based on the input from all will probably provide greater investment and buy in as well as opportunity to think through all the different scenarios. So that what you end of with truly reflects the needs of the women you serve and the fiscal and human resources available to you. Such a pilot program allows for replication in other areas. Also this team approach can be continued after services are established so that representatives meet to "case manage" and talk about various cases and how things are going etc.



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