The Society for Social Work and Research

2013 Annual Conference

January 16-20, 2013 I Sheraton San Diego Hotel and Marina I San Diego, CA

Does A Novel Community-Based Program Improve Violence Perpetration and Victimization Among Justice-Involved Partner Violence Victims?

Sunday, January 20, 2013: 10:45 AM
Nautilus 4 (Sheraton San Diego Hotel & Marina)
* noted as presenting author
Rebecca J. Macy, PhD, Associate Professor, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC
Shenyang Guo, PhD, Professor, 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
Dania Ermentrout, MSW, MPH, Clinical Instructor and MOVE Evaluation Project Manager, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC
Background and Purpose: Some female intimate partner violence (IPV) victims resort to physical aggression when defending themselves or others from male abusers (Muftić et al., 2007). Regardless of motivation, these women are arrested as perpetrators. Once adjudicated, justice-involved IPV victims are often mandated to services rather than jail (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 victims who were their children's primary caregivers 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 women. Consistent with prior research (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 and safety.

In collaboration with these agencies, our team conducted 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 showed promise in decreasing IPV perpetration and victimization among the participants.            

Methods: Following court referral, IPV victims who entered into the program were invited to participate in the research. Those who consented were assessed via questionnaires of standardized instruments at three time points: program entry, program completion, and three-month follow-up. Data were collected on physical IPV, psychological IPV, sexual IPV and IPV-related injury. To analyze this longitudinal data, we first investigated interclass correlation coefficients to assess for group treatment effects. We then used binary logistic regression with a robust estimator of standard errors to: (1) control for clustering effects; (2) maximize the use of all available data; and (3) incorporate time-varying covariates into our models (Guo, 2005).

Results: Seventy three women consented to research participation; this was an 82% participation rate among women who began the program (N=89). Many participants continued their study participation at program completion (96%; n=70) and follow-up (82%; n=60). Interclass correlation coefficients were non-significant for group treatment effects. While accounting for important covariates (education, income, race, relationship status), binary logistic regression models showed statistically significant reductions in participants' physical IPV perpetration (p<.001) and victimization (p<.001), their psychological IPV perpetration (p<.001) and victimization (p<.01), and their IPV-related injury (p<.01). 

Conclusions and Implications: This program for justice-involved IPV victims shows strong promise in reducing both IPV perpetration and victimization. Accordingly, these findings are significant because no helpful policy or practice interventions for justice-involved IPV victims have yet been determined. Given such positive findings, the program warrants future investigation with a rigorous randomized-control trial. In addition to discussing next research steps, we will provide attendees with information on promising intervention strategies from this community-based program.