skip to main content

This content will become publicly available on October 5, 2024

Title: Impacts of the COVID-19 Response on the Domestic Violence Workforce

Many frontline and essential workers faced increased levels of stress, anxiety, depression, and even suicide ideation during the pandemic response. These and other factors led to burnout, shifts into non-patient or client-facing roles, or leaving an occupation altogether. Domestic violence advocates experienced increases in many types of stressors as they continued to provide essential services to victims and survivors during the pandemic. However, in most cases they did so without protections offered to essential workers, like priority access to personal protective equipment (PPE) or vaccines. Executive directors of U.S. State and Territorial Domestic Violence Coalitions were identified using the National Network to End Domestic Violence website and contacted via email to schedule key informant interviews. Interviews were conducted, recorded, and transcribed using Zoom. Themes were identified using both inductive and deductive coding. Twenty-five of 56 (45%) coalition executive directors completed an interview. Three main themes related to workforce were identified, including an accelerated rate of job turnover among both leadership and staff; a lack of essential worker status for domestic violence advocates; and unsustainable levels of stress, fear, and exhaustion. While familiar challenges drove these outcomes for this predominantly female, low-wage workforce, such as a lack of access to childcare, other factors, including the lack of access to PPE, training, and hazard pay for those working in person, highlighted inequities facing the domestic violence workforce. The factors identified as impacting the domestic violence workforce—turnover, low status, and high levels of stress, fear, and exhaustion—made the already challenging provision of advocacy and services more difficult. Domestic violence advocates are essential first responders and must be supported in ways that increase the resilience of empowerment-based services for victims and survivors.

more » « less
Author(s) / Creator(s):
 ;  ;  ;  ;  
Publisher / Repository:
SAGE Publications
Date Published:
Journal Name:
Journal of Interpersonal Violence
Medium: X Size: p. 1190-1205
["p. 1190-1205"]
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. Abstract Background

    Prior to the availability of pharmaceutical control measures, non-pharmaceutical control measures, including travel restrictions, physical distancing, isolation and quarantine, closure of schools and workplaces, and the use of personal protective equipment were the only tools available to public health authorities to control the spread of COVID-19. The implementation of these non-pharmaceutical control measures had unintended impacts on the ability of state and territorial domestic violence coalitions to provide services to victims.


    A semi-structured interview guide to assess how the COVID-19 pandemic impacted service provision and advocacy generally, and how COVID-19 control measures specifically, created barriers to services and advocacy, was developed, pilot tested, and revised based on feedback. Interviews with state and territorial domestic violence coalition executive directors were conducted between November 2021 and March 2022. Transcripts were inductively and deductively coded using both hand-coding and qualitative software.


    Forty-five percent (25 of 56) of state and territorial domestic violence coalition executive directors representing all 8 National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV) regions were interviewed. Five themes related to the use of non-pharmaceutical pandemic control measures with impacts on the provision of services and advocacy were identified.


    The use of non-pharmaceutical control measures early in the COVID-19 pandemic had negative impacts on the health and safety of some vulnerable groups, including domestic violence victims. Organizations that provide services and advocacy to victims faced many unique challenges in carrying out their missions while adhering to required public health control measures. Policy and preparedness plan changes are needed to prevent unintended consequences of control measure implementation among vulnerable groups as well as to identify lessons learned that should be applied in future disasters and emergencies.

    more » « less
  2. This U.S. study explores lessons learned about domestic violence service delivery during the COVID-19 pandemic identified by state, territory, and tribal coalition leadership to advance preparedness and guide structural improvements for future disasters. Semi-structured interviews with 25 Coalition leaders identified public health control measures and victim-centered strategies used to mitigate the pandemic's impacts on services and advocacy. Three main themes emerged: workforce innovations, system empowerment, and the simultaneous pandemic of racial injustice. The COVID-19 pandemic inspired Coalitions to respond creatively and highlighted resources needed to support survivors and the domestic violence (DV) workforce going forward, including reassessing the current state of the DV movement.

    more » « less
  3. How did the COVID-19 pandemic affect domestic violence? We might expect that the most marginalized victims experienced the most dramatic upticks in violence during the pandemic. However, through life-story interviews, I found that survivors who were enduring abuse, poverty, housing insecurity, and systems involvement pre-COVID did not suffer worse abuse during the pandemic. For multiply marginalized survivors, COVID did not produce more violence directly, but instead worsened the social contexts in which they already experienced violence and related problems, setting them up for future instability. The small group of survivors in this study who did experience COVID as a novel period of violence were likely to be middle-class and better-resourced. To explain these findings, I suggest moving away from a model of crisis as “external stressor.” I offer the concept “clustered vulnerabilities” to explain how—rather than entering in as “shock”—crisis amplifies existing structural problems: social vulnerabilities pile up, becoming denser and more difficult to manage. “Clustered vulnerabilities” better explains crisis in the lives of marginalized people and is useful for analyzing the relationship between chronic disadvantage and crisis across cases.

    more » « less
  4. Abstract

    The purpose of the study was to explore differences in Google search autocompletes between English and Spanish‐speaking users during the first wave of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID‐19) pandemic. Twenty‐nine individuals who were in areas with shelter‐in‐place state orders participated in a virtual focus group meeting to understand the algorithm bias of COVID‐19 Google autocompletes. The three focus group meetings lasted for 90–120 minutes. A codebook was created and transcripts were coded using NVivo qualitative software with a 95% intercoder reliability between two coders. Thematic analysis was used to analyze the data. Among the 29 participants, six self‐identified as White, seven as Black/African American, five as American Indian or Alaska Native, four as Asian Indian, and three as Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander. In terms of ethnicity, 21 participants identified as Hispanic/Latino. The themes that emerged from the study were: (1) autocompletes evoked fear and stress; (2) skepticism and hesitation towards autocomplete search; (3) familiarity with COVID‐19 information impacts outlook on autocomplete search; (4) autocompletes can promote preselection of searches; and (5) lesser choice of autocomplete results for Spanish‐speaking searchers. Spanish speakers expressed concerns and hesitation due to social factors and lack of information about COVID‐19.

    more » « less
  5. Background: Even though Historically Black College and Universities (HBCUs) make up only 3% of higher education's institutions, they play a pivotal role in producing Black scientists by virtue of the fact that many received either their undergraduate or doctorate degree from a HBCU. HBCUs are credited with providing a more supportive and nurturing environment that thrives on communal mindsets and practices, emphasizing the importance of relationships, offering opportunities for Black students to "see themselves" as part of the academic and social milieu whereas Historically White Institutions (HWIS) are characterized as being hostile and discriminatory. Mentoring is said to be pivotal in the attainment of the PhD. Mentorships have an inherent gatekeeping mechanism, better positioning those who receive effective mentorships while disadvantaging those who do not. It has potential to harm and marginalize when not engaged with deliberate care and a culturally liberative mindset. Mentoring, when not under the thumb of colonizing mindsets, can contribute to more equitable experiences and outcomes for students who hail from AGEP population groups. Literature has indicated that Black students are less likely to have a mentor or be engaged in effective mentorships. The HBCU narrative of supportive environment is consistently told but has scant empirical validation for Black students pursuing STEM doctoral degrees. In fact, the lure of having faculty and peers who look like you is something of an enigma given that even at HBCUs there are limited numbers of Black faculty in STEM. How are same race, same gender mentorships attained when, not unlike their HWIS counterparts, HBCU STEM faculties have a large number of White and Asian men? If the environment is indeed different at HBCUs, is it different for Black STEM doctoral students? Is STEM doctoral mentoring at HBCUs emblematic of anti-Blackness or is it yet another tool used to oppress marginalized students? Theoretical Framework: Anti-black racism and critical capital theory serve as critical theoretical frameworks and were selected because they highlight the ways violence is enacted through taken for granted colonized practices such as mentoring. Fanon understood that thoughts and mindsets are the progenitors of violence and dehumanization is the process through which violence is enacted. Anti-black racism and critical capital theory can be useful in unearthing the structural inequalities that uphold the current system in place for STEM doctoral learning. Research Design: An embedded multiple qualitative case study research project sought to understand the nature and quality of STEM doctoral mentorships at an HBCU. The analysis on the HBCU subcase asked, how are STEM doctoral mentorships understood by Black STEM doctoral students at HBCUs? Black STEM HBCU students were interviewed and completed a mentoring competency assessment survey. In addition STEM doctoral students from three universities also completed the survey. The qualitative data was analyzed using narrative analysis and the survey data was analyzed using descriptive and inferential statistics. This project is part of a larger NSF AGEP sponsored research study. Research findings: The findings from this study expose that Black STEM doctoral students at HBCUs have not reached the proverbial Promise Land. In spite of being in a space that is more diverse, they manage to simultaneously be invisible and hypervisible. An unmerited sense of assumed cultural belonging was highlighted with students reporting a lack of selfethnic reflectors in their programs. In many ways the systemic and institutional structures on HBCUs with respect to STEM doctoral programming mirrored the colonial structures more often associated with HWIS. Their culture and cultural-based experiences as domestic students as well as their academic strengths were often not recognized by mentors while that of international students were. Three themes were supported by the data: Conspicuous Absence, Race Still Matters, and Invisibilized Hypervisibility. Implications: Better understanding how STEM doctoral mentoring is facilitated at HBCUs holds the promise of informing a mentoring practice that supports cultural liberation instead of cultural degradation and suppression. It becomes one avenue as the “The Call'' suggests to "confront our own complicity in the colonial enterprise" by holding STEM doctoral mentors and the institutions they represent accountable for socially just mentoring practices. Greater intentionality as well as mandated training informed by the study's results are recommended. HBCU faculty doctoral mentors are challenged to be scholar activists who engage mentoring from an advocacy and accomplice framework. The development of STEM scholar activists is the aspiration of more culturally liberative STEM doctoral mentorships. Black students need mentors who are willing and equipped to be advocates and accomplices in their success. 
    more » « less