The Nation’s Epidemic Known as “DV Run Around”

Domestic Violence Victims Ignored and Overly Referred by Victim Service Providers Unable to Assist and Address Victims Needs

Maria Dibari
September 2, 2011

Victims of domestic violence continue to be trapped in a vicious circle in the United States by domestic violence victim service providers from across the nation. Victims are overly referred, ignored and without any real help to address their needs.

The title of this post describes the one and only process domestic violence organizations/agencies/programs seem to use to send victims in, what I call, the “DV Run Around”.

In the past year of trying to reach out and get assistance from state funded DV organizations set up to help victims, I have first been ignored, then referred to someone else, then that person eventually passes the buck and sends me in a vicious circle, unable to assist me, never really addressing my issues.

One clear example I can give in my situation is with the NYS Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence. This agency is a state run office that assists victims and provides referrals. In the past 7 months I have been in contact with a representative from the office who has either ignored my questions, passed me off to someone else who could not assist me in my county, or answered questions I did not ask to change the subject and avoid certain conversations.

The problem is, I am already used to being passed off as a victim of DV, I am used to being ignored, referred to places I already know cannot assist me, and I am used to someone passing the buck, I am used to this circle of re-victimization.

Unfortunately, this is common among DV agencies, the OPDV is not the only organization to blame. Each and every agency is well stocked with pamphlets, they are armed with every last hotline you can think of, they can list shelters off the tops of their heads for victims to run to, they are well versed in safety plans, and exit plans, and warning signs of abuse, and they have great advice like, “fill out a Crimes Victims Board application!”, but to this day, only one small organization has provided me with actual funds so that I could seek medical treatments.

Being a victim of domestic violence, and also an advocate for DV Reform at the same time, brings me to a point where I must ask a question. What are these offices providing, what are these organizations providing, besides information I can easily obtain through a simple Internet search? From being in contact with the Office for the Prevention of DV for 7 months, I have found that most of the work day on their end seems to be an evasion of issues through long email messages back to me. I find this to be true with Coalitions and other DV organizations that “claim” to help innocent victims of DV as well, no one is getting this right. No one is paying attention to the truth, which is, DV organizations and programs are failing victims. It’s a powerful statement, but from my experience, which has been like pulling teeth, I find this statement to be true.

And even when I address this exact issue with DV organizations/programs that have failed me, they evade the truth and write around my question, again wasting my time and hoping I go away. When are DV organizations going to stop ignoring, stop referring, stop passing the buck because it’s easy? When are DV organizations going to help victims, by using funding for the victims and not to fund these positions that are unnecessary and not helpful?

I don’t need someone listing shelters out of a phone book, giving me hotlines numbers, referring me to agencies that aren’t prepared to help me, I need real people helping me tackle real problems, I need real advocates that have one primary goal, which is to stop passing the buck and assist a victim from start to finish.

We are victims and we need help from those who claim to assist, those who are getting paid to help us from start to finish, those who are in positions to make a difference. This process must end, referrals must end, and people from DV organizations must step up and follow up.