While the number of U.S. domestic violence incidents peaked during the pandemic, overall numbers have remained high even as the pandemic has waned. In rural areas, many women still live in fear and face a range of traumatic issues, reports Liz Carey of The Daily Yonder. A new study found that women living in rural settings who experience intimate partner violence, or IPV, need access to more help and outside support.

The study from the University of Minnesota's Rural Health Research Center found that rural victims "face more barriers and resource limitations that could affect their health and well-being," Carey explains. "Attempts to address intimate-partner violence in rural areas should be tailored to the specific needs of the people and places in those areas, the study said."

Alyssa Fritz, who led the research team, said they "spoke with 15 state and national advocacy organizations. . . to determine what barriers rural victims face and what opportunities exist to address those challenges," Carey reports. "All respondents said rural victims lack access to services like shelters, advocacy, legal services and law enforcement. . . . If programs that address intimate partner violence exist, they are underfunded and understaffed."

For rural communities to offer support, victims need to have access to health care, which is sometimes difficult to provide in a rural setting. And women who do find care often face social stigmas for speaking out. "Nearly half of the organizations brought up a lack of privacy and confidentiality in small communities as an extra challenge that rural victims have to consider when they weigh whether or not to reach out for help or leave," Carey adds. "In other cases, attitudes and societal norms in some rural communities may justify or normalize violence and victim-blaming."

Read the full article about intimate partner violence by Heather Close at The Rural Blog.