that victims want. Devising strategies to provide early assistance to victims who have significant mental health consequences might prevent or reduce needless additional suffering. It may be that the most effective approaches to reaching and serving victims have yet to be identified or fully developed.
Similarly, the majority of battered women may not seek services. In New York City, it is estimated that less than 2 percent of all battered women go through the shelter system, which is the entry point for many services (Friedman, 1995). There is some evidence to suggest that women who seek shelter services experience more frequent victimization than nonservice seekers. In studies by Giles-Sims (1983) and Okun (1986), women in shelters reported an average of between 65 and 68 assaults per year. The National Family Violence Survey of 1985 found an average of 6 assaults per year for all victimized women in the sample, and 15.3 assaults per year for women who had sought shelter services (Straus, 1990a). Women in shelters may have quantitatively different experiences from those of nonservice seekers associated with the difference in frequency of assaults. Yet since most of what is known about battered women and battering comes from samples of women drawn from shelter populations, lack of information about women who do not seek services represents a major gap in knowledge about violence against women. For victims of both rape and battering, it is not known to what extent they do not know about services, are unwilling or unable to use them, or choose not to use them.
Throughout U.S. history, women's advocates have sought laws and law enforcement to prevent violence against women. The modern women's movement succeeded in bringing federal attention to the problem in the 1970s.2 In 1984 the U.S. Attorney General's Task Force on Family Violence published