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.