Abstract: The Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill: Resilience & Recovery in the Aftermath of Post-Disaster Intimate Partner Violence (Society for Social Work and Research 23rd Annual Conference - Ending Gender Based, Family and Community Violence)

The Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill: Resilience & Recovery in the Aftermath of Post-Disaster Intimate Partner Violence

Friday, January 18, 2019: 5:15 PM
Golden Gate 8, Lobby Level (Hilton San Francisco)
* noted as presenting author
Regardt Ferreira, PhD, Director, Tulane University, New Orleans, LA
Fred Buttell, PhD, Professor, Tulane University, New Orleans, LA
Background and purpose:  The impact from disaster regularly results in uncertainty regarding the immediate and long-term future, a situation exacerbated by stressors that contribute to a wide range of physical, behavioral, cognitive and emotional symptoms that negatively affect social interactions among the exposed population (Norris et al. 2002; Ritchie, 2012; Gill et al., 2014; Baker and Cormier 2015). Specifically, some post-disaster studies indicate that disaster can result in troubled interpersonal relationships, marital stress, new conflicts and an increase in IPV (Norris, 2014). The extant literature on recovery mechanisms and processes for victims of IPV doesn’t address these same issues for IPV survivors in the aftermath of disaster. Given the global disruption caused by disasters to every aspect of daily living, this exploratory study sought to identify the resilience characteristics of IPV survivors in the aftermath of disaster. The conceptual model underlying the study was a modified version of the risk and resilience ecological framework (Corcoran and Nichols-Casebolt, 2004).

Methods: Data was derived from the Gulf States Population Survey (GSPS). The purpose of the survey was to provide information about the mental and behavioral health of residents affected by the oil spill.  The final sample used for analysis included 2,657 youth (18-24 years) survivors of IPV from the Gulf of Mexico region. A total of 25 counties within a radius of 32 miles of the oil spill were included. Inclusion criteria for the study were that an individual had to report that they had experienced either emotional or physical IPV. The study design was a comparative design (Hantrais, 2009), comparing risk and protective factors of individual resilience. The outcome variable, individual resilience, was operationalized using the five-item abbreviated Pearlin Mastery Scale (Pearlin et al., 1981), by measuring self-esteem, self-efficacy, self-mastery, and optimism of individuals.

Results: A hierarchical multiple regression analysis indicated that risk factors explained 7% of the variance in individual resilience, (F (4,2657) = 120.24, p < .0001). Furthermore, protective factors explained an additional 12% of the variance in individual resilience (F (8, 2655) = 138.24 p < .0001) above and beyond the variance explained by and accounted for by risk factors. Significant risk predictors are job loss as a result of the oil spill, decrease in income and depression. Significant protective factors are emotional and social support and education level.

Conclusions and Implications: This study identified the predictors of resilience among survivors of IPV exposed to the Deepwater Horizon disaster. The results identify significant risk and protective factors associated with victims of both IPV and exposure to disaster. Given the complexity of IPV within a post-disaster context, social work research should be directed at both identifying and meeting the immediate postdisaster needs of IPV victims. With the increase in disasters and the associated psychosocial impacts, the need to identify and support resilience attributes among survivors of IPV is crucial to enhancing well-being. This research is important because some much of the disaster research has overlooked the relationship between IPV and disaster.