Abstract: The Development of a Domestic Violence Bystander Awareness Intervention (B.R.A.K.E., the cycle) for South Asian Immigrants in the United States (Society for Social Work and Research 27th Annual Conference - Social Work Science and Complex Problems: Battling Inequities + Building Solutions)

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521P The Development of a Domestic Violence Bystander Awareness Intervention (B.R.A.K.E., the cycle) for South Asian Immigrants in the United States

Saturday, January 14, 2023
Phoenix C, 3rd Level (Sheraton Phoenix Downtown)
* noted as presenting author
Abha Rai, PhD, Assistant Professor, Loyola University Chicago, Chicago, IL
Nathan Perkins, PhD, Assistant Professor, Loyola University Chicago, Chicago, IL
Susan Grossman, PhD, Professor, Loyola University Chicago, Chicago, IL, Professor, Loyola University, Chicago, Chicago, IL
Purpose: South Asian immigrants are one of the fastest-growing immigrant groups in the U.S. Disclosing domestic violence by those who experience it may be challenging due to the stigma associated with it in this community. Reasons like limited social support and knowledge of help-seeking resources as well as fear of visa-related implications can disempower individuals experiencing abuse from seeking formal support through agencies. Informal help-seeking through family and friends is utilized more often. Therefore, it becomes essential for friends and family to be empowered to support those experiencing abuse.

“B.R.A.K.E. (Bystander Responsibility, Awareness and Knowledge Enhancement), the cycle” has been developed as an innovative online intervention for South Asian community members to provide support to those experiencing abuse. The scenarios included within this intervention have been developed on the premise of intersectionality theory and Berry’s theory of acculturation. These frameworks help us understand how one’s identity and acculturation pathways inform DV experiences and perceptions. The goal of this presentation is to highlight the development of B.R.A.K.E. and discuss implications for practice/policy/research.

Methods: This one-of-a-kind intervention consists of ten interactive scenarios, soliciting responses from bystanders about intervention choices in case their friend or family member experiences domestic violence (e.g. physical abuse, emotional abuse, in-law abuse). The underlying goal of B.R.A.K.E. is to enhance responsibility, awareness, and knowledge among bystanders. Since we wanted to make this intervention accessible, it was developed as an online intervention where participants could assume an avatar and respond to questions that come up in the scenarios. To pilot test the intervention, we collected data on the scenarios and response choices, including feedback using 21 sub-Reddit pages. As an example, we will present results from one scenario with comparisons across scenarios.

Results: Of the 974 pilot participants, 55.1% identified as male, 43% as female, and 1.2% as nonbinary, transgender, or other. 52.4% were married with an average of 19.72 years living in the U.S and included 1st and 2nd generation individuals. The example scenario includes a married couple wherein the wife has experienced physical, sexual, and verbal abuse from her husband. For this example scenario, there was significant variation in how participants responded based on “witnessing” violence by both gender (male or female: X2(2, N = 956)=7.31, p=.03) and generational status (1st or 2nd: X2(2, N = 971)=11.87, p=.003). While many respondents answered that they would engage in an appropriate intervention, a substantial portion responded to each of the options for every question, e.g. approximately 18% of the total sample indicated they would say goodbye to the wife and drive away upon witnessing verbal abuse from the husband while also knowing the wife’s experience with physical and sexual abuse. Detailed findings will be elaborated upon.

Conclusion: The development of B.R.A.K.E. as a culturally responsive intervention is an integral step in challenging the ideologies of South Asian community members and encouraging them to take action against domestic violence. This intervention can be adapted to serve diverse immigrant communities, becoming an important resource for immigrants and agencies serving them.