The Complexities of Victim Research

Research Report

The Complexities of Victim Research

Implementation Lessons from the Victim Impact Evaluation of Nonprofit Victim Services in the STOP Program


This paper details "the best-laid plans" to evaluate the effects of STOP-funded private nonprofit victim service programs on women victims of domestic violence and sexual assault, how they went "agley," and how the researchers coped. Reasons include many that past and future research has encountered and will encounter. They include the fragility and lack of infrastructure of many programs, plus inadequate resources for the research, far more than any unwillingness to participate on the part of women themselves. The paper suggests various ways to reduce the barriers to conducting victim research. But evaluators must anticipate pitfalls and develop solutions, and retain flexibility to adjust designs without destroying research rigor, running out of time, and overrunning project budgets.

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