Serving Rural Victims
Rural counties account for nearly 75 percent of all counties and cover 83 percent of the Nation's land. Seventy-four percent of the 3,040 counties in the United States have populations of less than 50,000, and 24 percent have fewer than 10,000 residents. Generally, rural areas tend to be more racially similar than urban areas, but there is a great variation among rural regions of the Nation.71
In 2002, the W.K. Kellogg Company funded researchers to conduct 242 indepth interviews of rural, urban, and suburban Americans in several regions. Most respondents held strongly positive views about rural life, seeing it as the repository of traditional values, closely knit communities, and hard work.72 Rural America, as the people interviewed see it, helps perpetuate the values that define this country, such as individualism and self-sufficiency. According to respondents, rural Americans are the Nation's backbone as the suppliers of food, and their land represents the last open spaces in an environment with a rapidly developing suburban landscape.
At the same time, respondents' perceptions of rural America include a series of dichotomies. For example, rural life represents traditional American values, but is behind the times; it is more relaxed and slower than city life, but harder and more grueling; it is friendly, but intolerant of outsiders; it is richer in community life, but epitomized by individuals struggling independently to make ends meet; and it offers a particular quality of life that includes serenity and aesthetic surroundings, yet is plagued by a lack of opportunities, including access to cultural activities.
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- Approximately 25 percent of Americans live in rural communities with fewer than 2,500 residents.73
- Rural populations incur higher costs for services, yet individuals in rural areas have few personal resources.74
- Victims needing assistance years after an assault may not understand that rape crisis centers are still available to help them.
- Victims may perceive that police response times are delayed because their calls are classified as low priority rather than because of staffing or geographic barriers.