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experience of domestic violence different for women across these groups.

Women in rural communities, for example, must often contend with a lack of public transportation, physical distance from neighbors contributing to isolation, and a lack of anonymity common in a small-town community. It is also common in rural communities for family members of both victims and abusers to work within the helping fields or have direct connections to those who work within the helping fields, creating additional barriers for victims and potentially reducing the likelihood of accountability for abusers.

Cultural or religious groups may hold values around family, sex roles and community integrity that can create additional pressures on battered women. Membership in a particular cultural or religious group, however, can also be a source of strength for battered women. These diverse communities may provide supports or services that are more appropriate to a battered woman's cultural or religious affiliation than those available through the mainstream service system.

For many women with disabilities who are victims of domestic violence, needed services are often inadequate and/or inaccessible. For example, resource materials are rarely available in alternate formats (Braille, large print, audio-tape); buildings where services are delivered may be physically inaccessible to women in wheelchairs; transportation may be unavailable to women with physical disabilities; and access to a TTY or to volume control phones for deaf/hearing-impaired women may be limited.

In addition to the lack of discrete services for gay men and lesbians who are abused by their partners, gay and lesbian victims who seek help may face exposure of their sexual orientation to those to whom they are not "out"; institutionalized heterosexism; negative attitudes about homosexuality from "helpers"; and fewer legal options than victims who are legally married.

The considerable diversity among victims of domestic violence requires systems to develop individualized responses that consider the particular needs of victims and that conform to "best practice" guidelines.

Costs of domestic violence

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