Abstract: Correlates of Domestic Violence Victimization Experiences Among Immigrants in the United States during COVID-19 (Society for Social Work and Research 27th Annual Conference - Social Work Science and Complex Problems: Battling Inequities + Building Solutions)

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Correlates of Domestic Violence Victimization Experiences Among Immigrants in the United States during COVID-19

Sunday, January 15, 2023
Ahwatukee B, 2nd Level (Sheraton Phoenix Downtown)
* noted as presenting author
Abha Rai, PhD, Assistant Professor, Loyola University Chicago, Chicago, IL
Susan Grossman, PhD, Professor, Loyola University Chicago, Chicago, IL
Nathan Perkins, PhD, Assistant Professor, Loyola University Chicago, Chicago, IL
Sherinah Saasa, PhD, Assistant Professor, Brigham Young University, Provo, UT
Background: Domestic violence (DV) has become a cause of concern during the pandemic, locally and internationally. Immigrants may be more vulnerable to the impacts of COVID-19, given systemic (access to healthcare, legal status, forced employment) and cultural barriers (patriarchal values, culture of collectivism). Furthermore, the stay-at-home orders across the US may have exacerbated DV victimization and limited help-seeking for survivors. Utilizing a bio-psycho-social framework, the goal of this multi-site study was to examine the correlates of DV victimization among immigrants in the US, during COVID-19.

Method: Data for the study were collected between February-April 2021 utilizing an online self-administered Qualtrics survey. Gender, age, and race (biological); mental health and stress (psychological); and immigrant generational position, household income, and family connections during COVID-19 (social) were included to examine their potential impact on the incidence of DV. This study sought to address two research questions: a) What types of domestic violence victimization do immigrants in the sample report experiencing during COVID-19? and, b) What biopsychosocial factors impact the occurrence of domestic violence victimization in a sample of immigrants during COVID-19? Frequencies and logistic regression results will be presented to answer the research questions.

Results: The sample (N=419) included 43.5% participants who were first generation, 17.2% were 1.5 generation and 39.2% were 2nd generation. In terms of country of birth, the top three countries were the US, India and Canada. Participants were across 40 US states. Of the sample, 41.5% were male and 56.8% were female. When examining DV prevalence rates, we observed that 35.1% of men (total men in the sample was 171) experienced DV victimization as compared to 28.3% of women (total women in the sample was 233). In the logistic regression model, family connections was statistically significant, such that those who were rarely/sometimes (OR=2.87, p<0.05) and often/always (OR=2.52, p<0.05) unable to continue connection and contact with friends/family during COVID-19 had higher odds of DV victimization as compared to those who were able to continue their connections with friends/family during COVID-19. Gender (OR=0.44, p<0.01), age (OR=0.98, p<0.01) and mental health (OR=1.18, p<0.05) all remained statistically significant, such that men, those who were younger and participants with more mental health distress were more likely to experience DV victimization. Our model correctly classified 72.5% of the variables and explained 27.1% variance in the dependent variable [χ2(15, 13) = 70.821, p<0.001)].

Conclusion: Not only does this study provide some insight into the type of violence experienced, but, using a psychosocial framework, it also examines the correlates of DV victimization. Based on our study findings, DV is an issue confronted both by men and women. Practitioners need to be aware that DV in immigrant communities can occur from one person to another regardless of gender. By discussing this dual gendered victimization pathway with communities through psychoeducation and with families/couples reporting DV, practitioners can help in de-stigmatizing this form of violence for all who experience it. Improved accessibility to and awareness of the VAWA will also allow immigrant, DV victims to benefit from the Act.