Abstract: Experiences of Help-Seeking Among IPV Victims during the COVID-19 Crisis (Society for Social Work and Research 26th Annual Conference - Social Work Science for Racial, Social, and Political Justice)

574P Experiences of Help-Seeking Among IPV Victims during the COVID-19 Crisis

Saturday, January 15, 2022
Marquis BR Salon 6, ML 2 (Marriott Marquis Washington, DC)
* noted as presenting author
Lisa Fedina, PhD, Assistant Professor, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, MI
Sarah Peitzmeier, PhD, Assistant Professor, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, Ann Arbor, MI
Louise Ashwell, MSW, Research Assistant, University of Michigan
Malorie Ward, Doctoral Student, Arizona State University, Phoenix, AZ
Todd I. Herrenkohl, PhD, Marion Elizabeth Blue Professor of Child and Family, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, Ann Arbor, MI
Rich Tolman, Professor, University of Michigan
Media reports and emerging studies report increases in intimate partner violence (IPV) during COVID-19 lockdowns. The Michigan Coalition to End Domestic Violence reported that a 17% increase in hotline calls volume, and some mid-Michigan cities witnessed as much a doubling in domestic violence police reports after March 2020 (NPR, 2020). Individuals experiencing IPV during the COVID-19 crisis may face extensive barriers to accessing critical services and resources, particularly individuals living with disabilities, those living in rural areas, and those of lower socioeconomic status. This study examines demographic correlates of formal and informal help-seeking during the pandemic in a general population sample of IPV victims.

An online, cross-sectional survey was administered in June 2020 to individuals 18 and older who identified as cisgender women or transgender/non-binary residing in the state of Michigan (N = 1,169). IPV was assessed with 20 dichotomous behavioral items capturing physical, sexual, psychological, or technology-based IPV that occurred during COVID-19 stay- at-home orders (beginning March 2020). Individuals reporting IPV during this time period were asked questions about formal help-seeking including called the police/had police called on their behalf, called a hotline or organization for help, and utilized a domestic violence shelter. Informal help-seeking included a single item asking if the participant talked to a friend, family member, or community member (re.g., religious, neighbor) for help.

A total of 14.8% (N=173) participants reported physical, sexual, psychology, or technology-facilitated IPV during stay-at-home orders. Among victims, 27.7% called police, 17.9% stayed in a shelter, 17.3% contacted a domestic violence hotline or organization, and 48% talked to a friend, family, or community member. Victims who were employed part-time (aOR = 6.09) and pregnant (aOR = 6.24) were more likely to seek formal help. Latinx victims were less likely to seek formal help than white victims (aOR = .025). Asian/Pacific Islander victims were less likely to seek both formal and informal help compared to white victims (aOR = .042; aOR = .092, respectively). Victims who were essential workers (aOR = .279), married (aOR = .182), and low income (aOR = .27) were less likely to seek informal help than their counterparts. Self-reported barriers to obtaining services included being fearful of their partner, being fearful of contracting COVID-19, and reductions in service availability.

Findings highlight trends in help-seeking and highlight populations (e.g., essential workers, lower incomes, younger victims, racial/ethnic minority groups) of victims that may face added barriers during the Covid-19 crisis. Public education and outreach strategies should be considered during the COVID-19 crisis which may also reduce barriers for survivors to obtain housing, legal support, assistance with protective orders, and counseling.