Assistant professor Gayatri Devi, of the English department, recently received a grant through the Center for Rural Pennsylvania in order to research the “barriers faced by domestic violence service agencies in delivering services in the rural areas,” she said.
Devi stated that Pennsylvania has “67 counties and 48 of them are rural.” This implies that a large majority of the population resides in a rural area. Rural areas tend to have their own set of rules when it comes to things like domestic violence and reporting and prosecuting said occurrences, she said.
These particular services run into the problems that were previously mentioned along with the fact that many of these areas are isolated by their location. The idea is that by determining the barriers the agencies face, then it will be easier to come to solutions and help people that are victims of domestic abuse in rural Pennsylvania.
Devi isn’t alone in this work, as it will involve a lot of fieldwork and research. She is supported in this endeavor by associate professor Lisette Schillig of the English department; professor Nicole Burkholder-Mosco of the English department, associate professor Tara Mitchell of the psychology department; assistant professor Holle Canatella of the history, political science, international studies and foreign languages department; and assistant professor Katherine Ely of the criminal justice department.
Sara Guthrie, a sociology major and women and gender studies minor, is part of the research team as well. Student assistants at the HOPE Center will also help with data input and transcriptions.
“We are using two main instruments. We have a survey to collect data and then we are doing focus groups,” Devi said.
This is a good way to get information from the source, which is vital when dealing with such a large number of rural areas. She has also been able to get data from other agencies, such as the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence (PCADV) and Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency (PCCD), which will work with her on this project and will contribute to the data she and her colleagues collect.
“Domestic violence is one of those really painful truths that sort of exists out in the open and all communities are plagued by it, whether its urban or rural,” Devi said. “It is a serious public health issue. So I am very thankful that the legislature is actually funding this research and I am very thankful to the 23 agencies that are partnering with us.”