Rape Incest and Abuse National Network (RAINN) represents a new type of delivery system for human services: the provision of supportive services over the internet. Internet-based hotlines are emerging as a new form of service delivery for victims of sexual assault. The RAINN online hotline (ROH) began offering services in 2006. Since beginning operation, ROH has had about 2000 users per month. Can the ROH provide competent, ethical and accountable service delivery?
Written by Jerry Finn, Professor Emeritus, University of Washington, Tacoma

Start this case

For Instructors

The Case of The Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN)

RAINN was an early adopter of virtual service provision, utilizing online platforms to provide confidential and accessible crisis intervention and other services to survivors of sexual violence, more than 15 years before the COVID-19 pandemic and client demand catalyzed similar innovations in other social service organizations. This case examines RAINN’s service delivery model (especially the online hotline and app), demonstrated outcomes, and organizational attributes (finances, leadership chart), to consider the future of social services, apply research skills to critically assess the evidence base for RAINN’s approach, and situate social work practice within an organizational context.

In addition to background information about RAINN and the service model used, the case includes supplemental materials from RAINN’s operations and evaluation. Instructors are encouraged to use the case in its entirety or to pull the evaluation plan, data, and research instruments to provide a concrete, real-life, example for a research course. The New Directions in Social Work series authors and editor appreciate the considerable contributions of Dr. Jerry Finn, Professor Emeritus, to this case.

The case has four sections:

  • Engage: This section includes the RAINN organizational chart, program components, funding, ecomap of collaborations, and goals, as well as some brief scenarios that describe the reasons people might seek RAINN services.
  • Assess: This section describes the sources of RAINN evaluation data, including system data from the RAINN computer system, user surveys, staff/volunteer surveys, and questions used in a focus group of RAINN volunteers.
  • Intervene: This section centers the online hotline and app, crucial components of RAINN’s intervention approach. To help students connect this interactive case to the actual context of social work practice, this section also links to information from RAINN directly.
  • Evaluate: This section includes the purpose of the RAINN evaluation with data examples from a recent evaluation. It also includes a section on evaluation questions that cannot be answered using the current evaluation model, which may point to supplemental or future inquiries. The section also includes data files students can use to practice their analysis

My Goals For This Case



Become acquainted with the purpose, development, and structure of the organization’s application of technology to the delivery of crisis intervention and ongoing mental health services to survivors of sexual violence.



Understand the data sources and methods of evaluation the agency employs to examine its services and inform future innovations.



Develop your critical thinking and evaluation skills by working with RAINN evaluation data to assess the effectiveness of the program, consider potential modifications, and examine how RAINN can evolve to leverage new technologies and meet shifting demands.