Telling a Story of Practitioner-Researcher Collaboration for Victim Services

When you feel strongly about something, it’s a really good day when someone hands you a microphone and says “tell us about it“.

One of those good days came about recently when the Center for Victim Research invited Kazi Houston and Emily Tofte Nestaval from Rocky Mountain Victim Law Center and me to talk about our Wrap Around Legal Services for Victims of Crime Project collaboration for a new podcast, “Tell Us About It: Victim Research Convos“.

It was a good day because, as it turns out, I feel pretty strongly about practitioner-researcher collaboration. In fact, my work is guided by the assumption that when practitioners and researchers team up, good things happen. Practice and policy can be stronger because of the inclusion of research insights; and research can be stronger because of the inclusion of practice and policy insights.

My fundamental belief about the importance of practitioner-researcher collaboration shows up in my choice of research methods, particularly community-engaged approaches. Community-engaged research is characterized by mutual benefit and reciprocity. In this approach, research is designed and implemented to be of benefit to communities as well as to researchers and science.

Lots of the research that we do through the Traumatic Stress Studies (TSS) Group takes a community-engaged approach, seeking to address questions that advance science and practice simultaneously. The potential power of community-engaged, practitioner-research collaboration really stands out, though, in the Wrap Around Legal Services for Victims of Crime Project. In that project, my research team collaborated with Denver-area agencies (led by Rocky Mountain Victim Law Center) over several years to identify unmet legal needs and barriers to getting legal needs met following crimes, such as sexual assault and domestic violence. Based on that research, our practitioner partners designed an innovative, wrap-around program to meet unmet legal needs and reduce barriers — the Legal Information Network of Colorado (LINC). LINC offers a website where survivors can go any time day or night to read legal information written in plain language. Survivors can work with a Navigator, who is specially trained to help connect them with resources to meet their legal needs. Building on early successes in Denver, which the TSS Group team helped evaluate, the LINC program is now rolling out statewide.

The story of this collaboration makes up the first two episodes of the new “Tell Us About It: Victim Research Convos” podcast. Episode 1 features Kazi Houston and Emily Tofte Nestaval (Rocky Mountain Victim Law Center) sharing practitioner perspectives on collaboration with researchers. They offer great examples of what practitioner-research collaboration can look like and how that collaboration can help victim service agencies accomplish their goals. Give a listen here:

In Episode 2, I got to share perspectives on collaboration for advancing practice and science. For practitioners wondering what might be gained by partnering with researchers or researchers thinking about incorporating community-engaged methods, I hope there is something in this podcast for you:

Thanks to the Center for Victim Research for letting us tell this story. And here’s to a good day, with a story of the impact of practitioner-research collaboration in two parts.

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The “Wrap Around Legal Services for Victims of Crime” project was supported by Grant 2012-VF-GX-K018 awarded to Rocky Mountain Victim Law Center by the Office for Victims of Crime, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice. The opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this post are those of the contributors and do not necessarily represent the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.