Rural Domestic Violence Issues

Battered women who live in rural areas of Nebraska have many  of the same problems as other victims of domestic violence.  Power and control tactics are the same, but  there are certain barriers that are faced by victims living in rural areas.  These include:

  •  Isolation is magnified.  There may be no or very limited public  transportation, so if a victim chooses to leave, she will have to take a family  vehicle.
  • A rural battered woman may not have phone  service.
  • It may take a long time for law enforcement and  medical assistance to respond to a call for help.
  • Confidentiality may be compromised in small  communities;  the victim and the batterer  may both know advocates and law enforcement personnel in a social context.
  • A farm or ranch may be the source of the family  income, and the victim may be reluctant to leave as she has no other economic resources  available.
  • Extreme weather can increase isolation; storms  may cause roads to become impassable.
  • Farms and ranches can be miles apart from each  other so neighbors may be difficult to contact for help and going into town for  help may be impossible.
  • Rural homes provide greater access to a variety  of tools like axes, chains, pitchforks etc that can be used as weapons.
  • It is common for rural homes to have guns and  knives and other hunting weapons.
  • Options for day care, jobs and housing may be  limited for victims who leave.
  • Rural women may have strong emotional ties to  the land and to farm animals.  She may  fear that livestock and pets may be harmed or neglected if she leaves.
  • Working with farm equipment can provide a ready  excuse for injuries.
  • Going to a larger community may be intimidating  to rural battered women.
  • Rural women may be play a critical role in a  family farming or ranching business and leaving could mean the business will  fail.

How can we reach rural victims in our state?

  • Advocates can create partnerships with community organizations.  Awareness and outreach can help to establish trust and open doors to safety.
  • Volunteers can be recruited in rural areas as a resource through churches or other community organizations.
  • Training can be targeted for rural law enforcement, nurses and educators to expand support systems in rural communities.
  • Media can be utilized in the form of public service announcements, letters to the editor and morning talk shows to promote awareness of services.
  • Youth groups can organize fundraisers in support of local services as a learning experience for our future generations and statement that they are striving to end violence.
  • Remember that YOU, as one person, can make a difference for someone who is in a violent situation.

Two sites dealing with issues that affect rural women are listed below.  These sites also link to other sites that may be helpful.