Methods: In 2016, workers involved with the DVL program were surveyed (analytical sample = 846). Information was collected on workers’ place of employment (CPS or DVO) and their socio-demographic characteristics: gender, race/ethnicity, DV training, and education. Workers were asked about their personal experience with DV and their attitudes and beliefs about DV, measured using a standardized scale. Multiple linear regression was used to examine the relationship between workers’ attitudes and workers’ socio-demographic variables and experiences with DV as predictors.
The majority of workers were female (87.1%), White (58.5%), and employed at CPS (74.9%). Over a quarter of workers (26.6%) identified as Black/African-American and one fifth (20.3%) identified as Hispanic/Latino. On average, workers have been employed at their current agency for 8.68 years (SD=7.10).
Results: The regression model is moderately effective at predicting workers’ attitudes and beliefs about DV, explaining 22.2% of the variance. The workers’ place of employment was a strong predictor of DV attitudes and beliefs. Workers employed at DVOs held fewer negative attitudes about DV victims than workers employed at CPS agencies (b=-5.01, t=-11.45, p<.001). Workers who feel their lives are impacted by DV hold fewer negative attitudes about victims of DV than workers who feel their lives have not been impacted by DV (b=-0.74, t=-1.97, p<.05).
Workers with at least 15 hours of DV training held fewer negative attitudes on average than workers with less training (b=-1.83, t=-4.40, p<.001). Workers’ level of education was not a significant predictor of worker attitudes; however, workers with a social work degree (MSW or BSW) held significantly fewer negative attitudes towards DV victims than workers with a non-social work degree (b=-0.96, t=-2.46, p<.05). No other personal experience, demographic, or employment variables were statistically significant.
Conclusions: Workers’ misconceptions about DV are decreased when they recognize that DV has had an impact in their personal lives, regardless of whether they are a survivor of DV. While training can also help reduce these misconceptions, this training must be extensive to help workers recognize the pervasive nature of DV and decrease reliance on the 'ideal victim' stereotype. These findings inform agencies’ training and capacity building efforts to help develop an effective social work response in cases of co-occurring DV and child abuse.