Abstract: Intimate Partner Violence Conversations on Twitter during the Early Days of COVID-19 (Society for Social Work and Research 26th Annual Conference - Social Work Science for Racial, Social, and Political Justice)

631P Intimate Partner Violence Conversations on Twitter during the Early Days of COVID-19

Sunday, January 16, 2022
Marquis BR Salon 6, ML 2 (Marriott Marquis Washington, DC)
* noted as presenting author
Abha Rai, PhD, Assistant Professor, Loyola University Chicago, Chicago, IL
Y. Joon Choi, PhD, Associate Professor, School of Social Work, Athens, GA
Soon Cho, MSW, Master's Student, University of Georgia, Athens, GA
Udayan Das, Clinical Instructor of Computer Science, Loyola University Chicago, Chicago, IL
Juliana Tamayo, Master's Student, Loyola University, Chicago, IL
Goutham Menon, Ph.D., Professor & Dean, Loyola University, Chicago, IL
Background and Purpose: Intimate partner violence (IPV) has become a cause of concern during the COVID-19 pandemic, especially after the shelter-in-place orders. Prolonged confinement with abusers during the shelter-in-place orders and lack of or limited access to safe shelters may have led to enhanced fear and distress among victims. Social media has been utilized to share information and communicate with others during national emergencies and disasters. Twitter has played a significant role in disseminating and communicating social issues in real-time. We utilized Twitter to examine the types of IPV conversations taking place during the early days of the shelter-in-place orders.

Methods: Our sampling frame consisted of tweets between March 19 - April 19, 2020. To include a comprehensive list of conversations taking place on Twitter related to IPV, we included 17 different trending hashtags related to IPV in our search such as, #Intimatepartnerviolence, #IPV, #Domestic_Violence, and #DV. The public web-based Twitter application programming interface was used for extraction. A total of N=39,396 tweets were retained after the removal of duplicates. A 10% sample (n=3,506) was chosen for analyses. Due to the limit in Twitter’s character count (280 characters), we used content analysis to analyze the tweets. The first two authors worked collaboratively to develop a codebook utilizing the first 200 tweets. Once the entire data were coded using the initial categories, similar categories were combined to avoid redundancy. Related categories were grouped into themes using an inductive process.

Results: Our sample included tweets by individuals, agencies, and community-based organizations. Five themes were identified: (a) increase in IPV during the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact (1,491 tweets), (b) resources to help victims and abusers of IPV during COVID-19 (1,185 tweets), (c) general discussion about IPV (422 tweets), (d) experience of IPV (171 tweets), (e) others (237 tweets). The tweets in the first theme centered on raising awareness of increased IPV during the COVID-19 pandemic. The tweets in the second theme were about resources, including petitions and campaigns highlighting ways in which victims could be supported during the lockdown. The tweets in the third theme were broadly about opinions and discussions relating to IPV, as well as new IPV policies. The tweets in the fourth theme were about personal experiences of female and male victims. The tweets in the last theme did not fit under any of the other themes.

Conclusion: This is an important study that integrates social media perspective into research, allowing for alternative ways of data collection. Collecting data using a social media platform can allow researchers and practitioners the opportunity to understand the public’s opinion around a social issue, such as IPV during the pandemic. Twitter was primarily utilized to share and disseminate information about IPV resources in this study, which signifies that social media can be critical for IPV programs and public health officials to communicate valuable information and share resources with victims during disease outbreaks. IPV programs can also utilize platforms such as Twitter to organize awareness movements.