Abstract: The Role of Spanish-Speaking Media in Intimate Partner Violence Help-Seeking during the COVID-19 Pandemic (Society for Social Work and Research 25th Annual Conference - Social Work Science for Social Change)

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447P The Role of Spanish-Speaking Media in Intimate Partner Violence Help-Seeking during the COVID-19 Pandemic

Tuesday, January 19, 2021
* noted as presenting author
Luis Alvarez-Hernandez, MSW, LCSW, PhD Student, University of Georgia, Athens, GA
Iris Cardenas, LSW, Doctoral Student, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ
Background and Purpose: The Latinx population is at a higher risk of experiencing the adverse consequences of intimate partner violence (IPV). These disparities have been intensified during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The media has been pivotal in providing safety measures during COVID-19. However, its role in delivering information to those experiencing IPV, particularly in the Spanish-speaking community, is unknown. Since social distancing and stay home orders created additional barriers to disclose IPV and obtain help, it is critical to explore the role of the media. The purpose of this study is to explore the messages about IPV help-seeking in Spanish-speaking media in the U.S. during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Methods: We collected data from Univision’s main website, one of the most-watched Spanish-speaking media outlets in the U.S. We searched for the keyword “violencia,” as many IPV terms in Spanish include this word (e.g., violencia doméstica, violencia de género, and violencia contra la mujer). The timeframe of the search covered the week after WHO declared COVID-19 a global pandemic, and the weeks leading up to and following the U.S. federal mandate for shelter-in-place. A total of 330 hits emerged from the initial search. The results were screened for including in the title or description words related to IPV and COVID-19 (n=68). After removing duplicates and excluding videos that did not focus on IPV or did not provide information on how or where to seek help, 29 videos met criteria for inclusion in the final sample. Data were analyzed using basic content analysis to determine frequencies and inductive interpretive content analysis to code for help-seeking messages.

Results: Most videos (59%) were between two and three minutes long. Of the 29 videos, 86% were local subsidiaries of Univision, mostly from Texas (n=9), California (n=6), and Illinois (n=4). Most reporters were men (59%), while most interviewees were women (66%). Local experts mostly provided the source of information regarding IPV. The videos provided information regarding local resources 62% of the time. Many videos either did not provide information about resources, or mentioned the resource and did not provide their contact information. Overall, the messages regarding IPV help-seeking were: (1) Be brave, (2) Be Prepared, and (3) Tell someone (e.g., friend, family member, police, agencies). The overwhelming message was that women were the target of IPV through physical abuse.

Conclusions and Implications: These findings highlight the role of the Spanish-speaking media in connecting those experiencing IPV with the appropriate resources and demonstrates its function in promoting and facilitating help-seeking behaviors. Efforts to address IPV in Spanish-speaking communities, particularly during a national crisis, should focus on ensuring that resources are provided in an efficient manner, such as displaying it on the screen. IPV messages in the media should go beyond depicting physical abuse in heterosexual partnerships, potentially discouraging those experiencing other types of IPV and from other marginalized groups. Community resources for IPV should continue to establish partnerships with their local media outlets.