Abstract: Experiences of College Student Service Providers on Intimate Partner Violence: Policy and Practice Implications (Society for Social Work and Research 23rd Annual Conference - Ending Gender Based, Family and Community Violence)

231P Experiences of College Student Service Providers on Intimate Partner Violence: Policy and Practice Implications

Friday, January 18, 2019
Continental Parlors 1-3, Ballroom Level (Hilton San Francisco)
* noted as presenting author
Ilan Kwon, MSW, Doctoral Candidate, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI
Shavonna Green, BASW student, Michigan State University, MI
Kristen Gennety, BASW student, Michigan State University
Hyunkag Cho, PhD, Associate Professor, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI
Ryan Kunz, MSW, Student, Michigan State University, MI
Aleya Williams, MSW, Student, Michigan State University, MI
Background and Purpose:

Intimate partner violence (IPV) is prevalent among college students, resulting in long-term negative health and behavioral consequences. Colleges have adopted policies to better address IPV among students and improve their responses (e.g., strengthening Title IX offices and coordination among service providers). Campus service providers strive to meet the critical needs of survivors, but there seems to be a variety of differences across different sections of services. There are many unknowns on how policies are accepted and implemented at practices, and what service providers find helpful and challenging. This paper fills this gap by having in-depth interviews with various college service providers to provide policy and practice implications.


Twenty-two in-depth, semi-structured interviews were conducted with professional college service providers (e.g., physicians, nurses, counselors, sexual assault response team, police) working at a Midwest public university. They were predominantly females (90%) and white (82%), with 9% African Americans, 5% Hispanics, and 5% Asian or Pacific Islanders. Participants were asked about their perceptions of the impacts of the IPV policies, and if their services met the needs of students who experienced IPV victimization. Utilizing a thematic analysis, interviews were transcribed verbatim, coded through constant comparisons, and grouped together based on their meaningful interconnectedness.


Three themes emerged across the service sectors: diverse understanding of Title IX, service barriers, and diverse clientele. Service providers appraised the influences of Title IX against sex discrimination on campus, such as an increase in public awareness of IPV, easy access to campus services, and development of concrete manuals. However, participants were challenged by rapidly increasing IPV reports and a lack of practical education on Title IX, eroding the effectiveness of Title IX. Service providers recognized two biggest barriers: a lack of service coordination, and shame and stigma. IPV survivors have multiple and complex needs that may not be fully identified at one service sector, requiring a holistic approach to improving systematic collaborations among various campus service systems. A stigma that blames survivors tend to result in shame, which discourages survivors from help-seeking. Participants emphasized the importance of cultural competency to better understand students’ background (e.g., diverse perceptions of, and experiences with, power dynamics in romantic relationships and gender roles), and provide culturally sensitive services.

Conclusion and Implications:

Campus service providers need to take a holistic approach by understanding multiple needs of IPV survivors, taking a cultural sensitivity and humility toward individual student’s background, and enhancing service collaboration across various campus service systems. Further research and analysis needs to examine how service providers’ cultural competency affects students’ service satisfaction and their felt shame and stigma. Campus services work as a protecting agent when college students cannot get support from their family of friends after IPV victimization. While Title IX and other policy provisions have been developed and announced, it is critical to make sure for all service providers to have a correct understanding of them and coordinate together to achieve the intended goals.