Responses are actions that may be taken following an incident of family, domestic and sexual violence, and can be classified as formal or informal. Formal responses involve reporting to, or engaging services provided by various formal systems, such as police, government services or other targeted services. Informal responses or disclosures (footnote 4) are actions that do not involve reporting to, or utilising services provided by formal systems. The distinction between informal and formal responses lies mainly in the service transaction, or the requirement that payment be exchanged or records of service be maintained; and in the potential for codes of professional conduct to be involved, for example in mandatory reporting.
Formal services will generally require that reporting and record-keeping functions be administered, whereas informal responses will not. As an example, both a friend or family member and a psychologist might be a source of support for a victim or perpetrator; on the one hand as an informal source of support the friend or family member would not be expected to take notes regarding the interaction or seek payment for their time, however the psychologist, as a formal support, would do both of these.
Informal responses on the other hand may be actions taken by the victim, the victim’s family and friends, a witness to the incident, or other networks available to the victim. Informal responses may also be actions taken by the perpetrator. There are linkages and interactions between formal and informal responses, and between the ‘response’ and ‘impacts and outcomes’ elements.
Information about formal responses are necessary to evaluate and assess systems and services. Formal responses to family, domestic and sexual violence can include an array of services that operate at a number of levels from prevention to intervention. Measures are needed to assess how well these system responses are performing in delivering quality actions to reduce incidences of family, domestic and sexual violence.
Measures can be used to inform improved outcomes for clients of government and non-government services by assessing the types of services provided, accessibility, awareness of services, and whether services meet the particular needs of populations and groups of interest.
4. Disclosure refers to the victim’s revelation of the incident. The disclosure can be spontaneous or prompted, and does not necessarily mean that a formal response is set in motion (Wall 2012). <Back
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