Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Online advocacy vs. face-to-face advocacy

After an email “conversation” with Alexis Moore I began to think about service delivery and online victim advocacy versus face-to-face advocacy. I believe both are important and effective.

There are certain points in an in the life of a domestic violence victim that she will be more likely to be seeking online information. One point is the planning process, while still in a relationship, but looking for the safest and best process to leave. It may be impossible to access help in the form of programs or advocates and online information can, at times, be the sole source of support.

The other point in time time I see survivors seeking help on the internet is when they are securely out and established on their own. At that time they may be seeking legal information for divorce & custody , information regarding emotional or physical well-being and even information about volunteering or helping others.

There is a gap between these 2 "phases" that is a crisis phase. The transitional, at times, life-or-death changes in status, whether preceeded by planning or precipitated by an assault. This is the time when there is the most critical need for help but it isn't going to come from the internet. It will come from family, friends, medical personnel, police and advocates.

Individual crisis intervention will never be accomplished effectively online, but you are likely to reach and educate far more people by utilizing the many ways of networking on the web. A comprehensive program should pour their resources into both to help fill the gaps in service delivery. Anything less is leaving someone out.

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