Society for Social Work and Research

Sixteenth Annual Conference Research That Makes A Difference: Advancing Practice and Shaping Public Policy
11-15 January 2012 I Grand Hyatt Washington I Washington, DC

16095 Pilot Findings From a Novel Program for Justice-Involved Partner Violence Survivors

Thursday, January 12, 2012: 2:00 PM
Constitution D (Grand Hyatt Washington)
* noted as presenting author
Rebecca J. Macy, PhD, Associate Professor, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC
Dania M. Ermentrout, MSW, MPH, Clinical Instructor, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC
Cynthia F. Rizo, MSW, Doctoral Candidate, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC
BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE: Some female intimate partner violence (IPV) survivors resort to violent acts when defending themselves or others from male perpetrators (Muftić et al., 2007). Regardless of motivation, these victimized women are arrested as perpetrators. Once adjudicated, justice-involved IPV survivors are frequently mandated to community services. Women who are primary caregivers are commonly mandated to parenting education (Simmons et al., 2010). Unfortunately, little is known about such mandated services. This knowledge gap poses a critical problem because females represent 8-20% of all IPV arrests, while women who are primary batterers only constitute a small percentage of female IPV arrests (1-7%; Rajan & McCloskey, 2007).

Growing numbers of justice-involved IPV survivors troubled the staff at two community-based agencies (a child abuse prevention agency and an IPV prevention agency) in a southeastern U.S. city. The two agencies partnered to develop a program for these IPV survivors. Consistent with prior research with justice-involved IPV survivors (Simmons et al., 2008), the program was developed and grounded in a positive, empowerment philosophy. The manualized program uses a group modality, and participants meet together once per week. Over 13 meetings, two social work group leaders deliver content on IPV, parenting, communication, and safety.

In collaboration with these agencies, our study team conducted evaluation research to complete the first phase of evidence-based practice development (treatment development, feasibility and pilot testing; Fraser & Galinsky, 2010). We aimed to determine whether the program was feasible and promising.

METHODS: Among all women who began the program, 91% (n=82) successfully completed. Among program completers, 89% (n=64) participated in the research. Our team collected data from participants at program entry and completion. At both times, participants completed a self-administered survey of valid, reliable instruments. Instruments assessed participants' mental health (e.g., Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale), parenting (e.g., Healthy Families Parenting Inventory), and IPV experiences (e.g., Revised Conflict Tactics Scale). T-test and chi-square analyses were used to assess for program promise. The study scope prohibited analyses of nested, group-level data. However, we will present group effect findings (i.e., preliminary intraclass correlation coefficients) to inform future research.

RESULTS: At completion and relative to program entry, participants reported statistically significant improvements in mental health (depression t=4.07*** and posttraumatic stress disorder t=3.14**), parenting efficacy (t=2.49*), parenting role satisfaction (t=2.14*), and IPV experiences (psychological abuse chi-square=4.19* and sexual abuse chi-square =10.06**).

CONCLUSIONS AND IMPLICATIONS: This novel program for justice-involved IPV survivors shows feasibility and promise. Participants reported improved mental health, parenting skills, and IPV at completion. This research is significant because helpful policy or practice interventions for justice-involved IPV survivors have not yet been determined. Moreover, comparative program completion rates are markedly lower (i.e., female batterer interventions at 58%; Dowd, et al., 2005). Given these positive, preliminary findings, the program warrants future investigation with a rigorous randomized-control trial. In addition to discussing implications for practice, policy, and research, we will provide attendees with lessons-learned from this collaborative, community-based program evaluation with vulnerable, mandated clients.