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EVAWI > Resources > Making a Difference Project

The research design for the Making a Difference Project was very straightforward, requiring participating professionals to submit descriptive information on their agency’s sexual assault caseload during specified time periods. Because this data was provided anonymously, without any identifying information for the victim(s), suspect(s), witness(es), or others involved in the case, any potential risk to human subjects was minimized. In fact, participating professionals committed to implementing the data collection methodology as part of their standard agency practice, so the research component consisted only of providing this anonymous data to EVAWI staff for analysis. This required compiling the data provided by all of the participating professionals, so comparisons could be made across the various professional disciplines and communities involved in the Making a Difference Project.

One of the first goals of Phase II of this project was to refine the data collection methodology and materials to be used. Teleconferences were conducted with representatives in each of the 8 U.S. communities, and drafts of data collection materials were circulated to elicit feedback as the versions evolved. This process resulted in finalizing the Data Collection Guidelines, Tracking Form, and Excel Spreadsheet for each of the 5 primary disciplines participating in the data collection effort:

  • Law Enforcement
  • Prosecution
  • Forensic Medicine
  • Community-Based Victim Advocacy
  • System-Based Victim Advocacy

All of these original research materials were developed for the U.S. context and are available for any professional interested in using them to implement a data collection strategy in their own agency.  They have since been updated, with detailed recommendations offered by participants during the Research and Reform Summit. 

A detailed description of the research methods used for the MAD project is also available here.  To summarize, each participating agency was asked to fill out a Tracking Form to record detailed information on all sexual assault cases that were handled by their agency in the specified time frame. The information recorded on the Tacking Form included basic characteristics of the victim, suspect(s), case, and agency processing.  Once a Tracking Form was completed for each sexual assault case handled by the agency, participating professionals were then asked to have someone within their agency enter the information from the Tracking Form into the corresponding Excel spreadsheet.

After a 6-month interval, project staff at EVAWI then requested that professionals in the 8 U.S. communities submit a copy of the Excel spreadsheet by email, so data could be compiled across the various disciplines and communities, analyzed to test scientific hypotheses, and summarized in a report made available both to the participating communities and published in the research literature. Because project funding for the U.S. communities continued through the end of 2006, the data collection periods included the following:

  • January to June 2005
  • July to December 2005
  • January to June 2006
  • July to December 2006

A summary of the basic data findings is now available. This summary was presented at the MAD Research and Reform Summit hosted in Austin, Texas in July, 2009. It includes disciplinary comparisons for general characteristics of the suspect, victim, and case for sexual assault included in the data collection effort. It also includes unique information provided by each of the primary disciplines: law enforcement, forensic medicine, prosecution, and victim advocacy.

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