The Society for Social Work and Research

2014 Annual Conference

January 15-19, 2014 I Grand Hyatt San Antonio I San Antonio, TX

Training Needs of Intimate Partner Violence and Sexual Assault Service Providers

Saturday, January 18, 2014
HBG Convention Center, Bridge Hall Street Level (San Antonio, TX)
* noted as presenting author
McLean D. Pollock, MSW, MPH, Ph.D. Candidate, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC
Rebecca J. Macy, PhD, Associate Professor, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC
Sandra L. Martin, PhD, Professor, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC
Kathleen Kenny, Student, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC
Background and Purpose: Intimate partner violence (IPV) and sexual assault (SA) survivors are negatively affected by the aftermath of violence both physically and mentally (Campbell, 2002) and also experience financial and social impairments subsequent to victimization (Briere & Jordan, 2004). To address such needs, many survivors seek help from local IPV/SA agencies, which offer an array of services: individual counseling, legal and medical advocacy; safety planning; support groups, and shelter to provide a safe living environment (Riger et al., 2002). IPV/SA service providers have the challenging task of assessing survivors’ needs and tailoring service plans to meet those needs. With a range of available services, IPV/SA service providers need considerable expertise to design individualized service plans to best meet survivors’ needs. Accordingly, IPV/SA service providers require training to develop such expertise. Unfortunately, there is a lack of consensus regarding the content and extent of training required for effective IPV/SA service provision (Macy et al., 2009). Moreover, there is a dearth of research to inform standardized training curricula for IPV/SA service providers. To help build the knowledge base in these areas, we investigated IPV/SA agencies’ current training and technical practices, as well as their training needs.

Methods: Our research team surveyed all IPV/SA agencies in North Carolina by developing a database of all IPV/SA agencies and their directors from the Websites of the three statewide IPV/SA organizations. We then confirmed the accuracy of the information by contacting each agency to obtain a final sample of 103 agency directors. With guidance from an expert panel of IPV/SA statewide leaders, we developed a survey to collect information regarding typical IPV/SA staff training practices and training needs. The web-based survey was administered over 13 weeks. Of those invited, 74% started the survey and 65% completed most or all of the survey. We then conducted descriptive analyses to assess training levels and ongoing training needs among all participating agencies.


Results: The majority of respondents reported that personnel received initial trainings in five key areas of survivor concerns: violence/safety (95.5%), emotional health (95.5%), disability (86.4%), physical health (78.8%), and substance use (77.3%). However, respondents reported that more than half of their staff required additional training in violence/safety (22.7%), physical health (26.9%), emotional health (27.3%), disability (33.3%), and substance use (42.4%). Notably, there were no statistically significant differences (p=0.05) in training needs when comparing agencies that provided orientation trainings in each area with those that did not.


Implications: This study is among one of the first to examine the training practices and needs of IPV/SA agencies. Respondents reported continuing educational needs in five key areas of survivor concerns regardless of whether agencies provided orientation trainings. Such findings suggest that there are critical training needs across IPV/SA advocates and agencies. Based on this research’s findings, we offer recommendations for standardized training curricula for IPV/SA service providers that address the complex needs of IPV/SA survivors.