Service providers generally view sexual assault victims in rural areas as an underserved population, mostly because of a well-recognized, low rate of reporting and because of the often dispersed nature of services. Rural populations are often marginalized from mainstream power structures, which hold more opportunities for assistance, services, and resources.
Barriers for survivors in rural areas include:
- survivor isolation from services
- traveling long distances and/or lack of transportation
- lack of medical facilities and/or medical practitioners equipped to provide care or forensic exams
- long distance from law enforcement and/or courts
- an inability to be anonymous; less degrees of separation between folks
- increased silence, isolation, and/or disbelief if perpetrator is also known in community
Barriers to survivors in rural areas are further compounded when these survivors are also immigrants. Immigrants and refugees have been increasingly settling in rural areas due to work opportunities, the similarities in the setting of their home countries, and designated resettlement areas.