Abstract: Openness to Online Counseling Among Collegiate Survivors of Intimate Partner Violence (Society for Social Work and Research 27th Annual Conference - Social Work Science and Complex Problems: Battling Inequities + Building Solutions)

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111P Openness to Online Counseling Among Collegiate Survivors of Intimate Partner Violence

Thursday, January 12, 2023
Phoenix C, 3rd Level (Sheraton Phoenix Downtown)
* noted as presenting author
Abbie Nelson, MSW, Graduate Assistant, Michigan State University, Lansing, MI
Jennifer Allen, MSW, Doctoral Student, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI
Hyunkag Cho, PhD, Associate Professor, Michigan State University
Background and Purpose. College students who experience intimate partner violence (IPV) victimization, which may include physical, psychological, cyber or other types of violence, are at risk for negative physical and mental health outcomes. However, IPV survivors are often reluctant to seek help. Newer treatments, such as online counseling (OC), which particularly has grown in popularity during the COVID-19 pandemic, may address some barriers to seeking help for IPV survivors. This study utilized a sample of IPV survivors to determine what factors were associated with increased openness to OC. By identifying the IPV survivors who were most open to OC, they can be better targeted for such interventions.

Methods. This study's sample consisted of collegiate IPV survivors (N = 864) attending seven universities in the U.S. and Canada in 2016. Most survivors were White/Caucasian (66.6%), female (81.1%), heterosexual (83.7%), and reported depression (54.7%). The outcome variable was participants' openness to participating in online counseling, measured by three questions with a higher sum score indicating increased openness. Independent variables included the type of IPV victimization experienced (physical, psychological, or cyber); history of seeking help from face-to-face sources; frequency of alcohol and drug use; depression; having taken any class or training related to IPV, as well as demographic characteristics such as age; international student status; LGBTQ+ identity; physical, mental, or emotional disability status; financial security; gender identity; and race/ethnicity. A linear regression was conducted to examine associations between the variables of interest.

Results. The overall linear regression model was significant, R2 = .058, F(18, 845) = 2.88, p < .001. IPV survivors who were male (β = -.36, p = .001), LGBTQ+ (β = .35, p = .002), and who experienced fewer instances of physical IPV victimization (β = -.13, p = .053) were more open to online counseling than their counterparts, with the last trending toward significance. Additionally, survivors who previously sought help from face-to-face sources were less open to OC than those who had not (β = -.28, p = .002). The relationships between all other independent variables and the dependent variable were not significant.

Conclusions and Implications. Among collegiate IPV survivors, those identifying as male and LGBTQ+ are most open to online counseling, potentially reluctant to seek face-to-face help due to biases and stigma, suggesting that they should be particularly targeted for such interventions. The finding that IPV survivors who already sought help from face-to-face sources are less open to OC suggests that OC can be an alternative for those who have not sought help from any source and may be best targeted toward them. The lack of a relationship between disability status and openness to OC was surprising, but openness might differ based on type of disability (physical, mental, or emotional). In future studies, researchers should also more deeply examine dynamics between different gender and sexual orientation identities since they seem to be important factors determining survivors' openness to OC. Additionally, qualitative studies examining survivors' openness to OC versus face-to-face options in their own words would be of interest.