Sexual assault (SA) is a significant public health issue which can result in a variety of consequences such as physical injury, post-traumatic stress disorder, suicidal ideation, and financial strain. Post-assault, survivors are faced with a host of legal and non-legal needs. To better understand these needs, Idaho Legal Aid Services (ILAS) contracted with researchers at Boise State University to examine the legal and non-legal needs facing rural SA survivors in Idaho.
The report finds that, while the demand for legal assistance for SA survivors appears to be high, the available resources are limited. The most commonly identified opportunity for ILAS was increased capacity, including more attorneys, more rapid response time, improved communication, increased presence in rural areas, stronger inter-agency relationships, and more bilingual services. With the understanding that funding and resources are limited, the report recommends creative ways to expand service availability, including rotating or mobile law clinics, and the use of paralegals or other professionals to bolster ILAS’ capacity.
The research team also identified other needs that are not specific to legal services, but are important for service providers to consider as well. Additional collaboration among service providers is recommended to enhance relationships and education surrounding the range of services available. Other system-wide opportunities to support rural SA survivors, outlined further in the report, include support of legislation to expand civil protection order eligibility, and increased access to non-legal resources, such as mental/behavioral health, transportation, housing assistance, and childcare.