Challenges and Barriers Within Systems and Service Providers 

Studies have shown rural and suburban women experience greater frequency and severity of physical abuse yet live much farther away from available resources. Women in rural locales may have worse psychological and physical health outcomes due to the lack of availability, accessibility, and quality of domestic violence services.


Rural and suburban women are nearly twice as likely to be turned away from services because of the insufficient number of programs and inadequate staffing of community-based health programs and face barriers of access due to geographic distance and isolation. 


Rural and suburban women who are affected by domestic violence and emotional abuse face additional challenges including:


  • Isolation: The nature of living in a rural area means family, friends and neighbors are inherently a further distance from rural women.

  • Access: The mean distance to the nearest resource center is three times greater for rural women, with 25% living more than 40 miles from the nearest resource center.

  • Stigma of Abuse: Women in rural communities often personally know the health care providers, law enforcement officers and local officials which may prevent them from seeking help or reporting abuse.

  • Intimidation: Rural and suburban women have often not been out of the small communities in which they live, making trips to agencies and shelters in unfamiliar areas intimidating and traumatic. 

  • Social Status: The more socially powerful an abuser, the more powerful his abuse can be - and the more difficult it can be to escape. An abusive man's charm and public image may make a victim reluctant to reach out because she feels she will not be believed or people will blame her.