Abstract: Predictors of Help-Seeking Outcomes Among Intimate Partner Violence Survivors (Society for Social Work and Research 26th Annual Conference - Social Work Science for Racial, Social, and Political Justice)

632P Predictors of Help-Seeking Outcomes Among Intimate Partner Violence Survivors

Sunday, January 16, 2022
Marquis BR Salon 6, ML 2 (Marriott Marquis Washington, DC)
* noted as presenting author
Hyunkag Cho, PhD, Associate Professor, Michigan State University
Sung Hyun Yun, PHD, Associate Professor, University of Windsor, Windsor, ON, Canada
Seunghye Hong, PhD, Associate Professor, Myron B. Thompson School of Social Work, Honolulu, HI
Background: Intimate partner violence (IPV) among college students is a serious public health problem, not only because it affects their health and academic achievements, but also it may result in ever-lasting, life-long trauma of the survivors and disadvantages they may experience. Seeking help from various sources, including formal (e.g., police, doctor) and informal (e.g., family and friends), is critically important to reduce such negative consequences. The literature, however, suggests that help-seeking does not always result in positive outcomes. It is not clear yet how help-seeking outcomes are associated with various types of IPV and various types of help sources. This study addresses this gap, using survey data collected from college students.

Method: The study sample was drawn from the survey dataset (N=4,723) collected from college students in seven universities in the U.S. and Canada in 2016. Participants were asked to report their IPV experiences, help-seeking and its helpfulness, and depression, along with demographic questions. We included those who reported any IPV victimization, sought help after IPV, and answered all major study variables in this study (N=524).

Independent variables were age, gender (male/female), sexual orientation (heterosexual/non-heterosexual), race (White/non-White/multiracial), four types of IPV victimization (yes/no, physical, psychological, sexual, and technological), depression (dichotomized as clinically depressed/not clinically depressed from 20 items, 4 points Likert scale, ranging 0-60), and outcomes of 11 types of help-seeking (helpful/not helpful, from medical, police, social worker, family, friend).

We conducted descriptive analyses and11 logistic regression analyses, with each sources of help as the dependent variable. All analyses were conducted using SPSS.

Results: The sample was 88% female, 80% heterosexual, 70% White, 23.6 years old on average (SD=6.9), and 56% clinically depressed. Among formal help sources, social workers were the most helpful (89%), followed by medical (85%), shelter (84%), lawyer (70%), and police (51%), the least helpful. Among informal help sources, friends were the most helpful (81%), followed by extended family (79%), coworker (78%), immediate family (73%), religious official (54%), and partner’s family (46%), the least helpful.

Logistic regression analysis results of the predictors of help-seeking outcomes showed that (1) medical help was less likely to be helpful for those who were male, depressed, or victimized by technological violence, and (2) friends were less likely to be helpful for those who were sexual minority or depressed.

Conclusion: Police and religious officials being the least helpful among various help sources indicates a need for an in-depth look at how they interact with college student survivors. Although medical care was mostly helpful, there were disparities between gender, mental health, and IPV type. In medical care, male survivors may not receive a proper, sensitive care; depressed survivors’ needs may not be properly addressed; and consequences of technological violence may not be communicated well. Although friends were mostly helpful, sexual minority and depressed survivors found them less helpful. Raising public awareness of IPV dynamics and potentially less understood needs of sexual minorities and those with depressive symptoms would help IPV survivors receive much needed help from their friends.