Abstract: Academic Safety Planning: Campus-Based Advocacy Practices for Survivors of Intimate Partner Violence and Sexual Assault (Society for Social Work and Research 25th Annual Conference - Social Work Science for Social Change)

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713P Academic Safety Planning: Campus-Based Advocacy Practices for Survivors of Intimate Partner Violence and Sexual Assault

Tuesday, January 19, 2021
* noted as presenting author
Rachel Voth Schrag, PhD, Assistant Professor, University of Texas at Arlington, Arlington, TX
Dixie Hairston, MSW, Senior Research Associate, University of Texas Medical Branch, TX
Leila Wood, PhD, Assistant Professor, University of Texas Medical Branch, TX
Background and Purpose: Increased scholarly attention to interpersonal violence, including intimate partner violence (IPV) and sexual assault (SA) in the lives of college students. This research has revealed serious negative impacts including reduced physical and mental health and substantial academic disruption (Amar & Gennaro, 2005; Mengo & Black, 2016) with significant long-term economic, health, and academic consequences. Campus-based interpersonal violence advocacy is a model of direct service and support that institutions are implementing to address these impacts. The context of higher education creates unique advocacy dynamics, including an increased focus on educational goals. Despite the rapid expansion of these programs on college campuses, there is little known related to the services provided, or the strategies employed to address the unique educational context. Thus, guidance is needed on best practices for implementing campus-based advocacy, particularly through academic safety planning.

Methods: Qualitative interviews (n = 48) with advocates (n = 23) and service users (n = 25) from five programs at three universities were employed to uncover advocacy approaches and strategies used by campus-based advocates, and to understand student survivor service needs and preferences. The three universities all have at least 30,000 students, are demographically and regionally diverse, and include two Hispanic Serving Institutions, and two Research One universities. Two of the campuses had two different advocacy program models, and one campus was home to a single center. Thematic analysis following steps outlined by Braun & Clarke (2006) was used. Kappa values for inter-rater reliability ranged from 80.48-100 among coders.

Results: Campus-based advocacy models use a trauma-informed and student-survivor -centered approach similar to community programs, with specific adaptations for higher education. Key factors that distinguish advocacy on college campuses are attention to the developmental phase of emerging adulthood, an emphasis on the university community experience, and the role of the institution and institutional policy in advocacy, with an emphasis on Title IX. To address these factors, campus-based advocates focus on increased psychoeducation, enhanced used of technology, building (or re-building) social networks and institutional trust, and altering safety planning approaches to include educational risks faced by survivors. The expansion of community-based safety planning approaches to include a focus on academics or, academic safety planning, is used to facilitate enhanced academic achievement and includes advocating for emotional and physical safety within higher education, assessing for and addressing the need for academic accommodations, and rebuilding connection and institutional trust. Specific advocacy skills and tasks related to psychoeducation and safety planning will be discussed, with a discussion of next steps for research.

Conclusions and Implications: Campus-based advocacy models for survivors of SA and IPV expand on community-based models with critical shifts to meet population needs. These shifts are important for social workers and other helping professionals in the advocacy field, and for understanding mechanisms to interrupt the negative impacts of interpersonal violence over time. Further research is needed to assess the outcomes of campus-based advocacy in the short- and long-term for diverse student populations, and to distinguish campus and community models.