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  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.

    Methods

    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.

    Results

    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.

    Conclusions

    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.

     
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  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.

     
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  3. 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.

     
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  4. To assess COVID-19 information and services available to domestic violence service providers, survivors, and racially and culturally specific communities in the U.S., a content analysis of 80 national and state/territorial coalition websites was performed in June 2020. COVID-19 information was available on 84% of websites. National organizations provided more information for survivors related to safety and mental health and for racially and culturally specific communities. State/territorial coalitions provided more information for providers on COVID-19 and general disaster preparedness. COVID-19 and social distancing measures implemented to control it diminished help-seeking in unique ways. Greater online access to information and resources may be needed to address changing needs of survivors during disasters and emergencies.

     
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  5. Reproductive coercion is an understudied form of intimate partner abuse related to physical, sexual, and psychological abuse. Prior research suggests that women accurately predict whether their abuser will continue the abuse. Thus, understanding factors related to these perceptions is necessary to enhance safety. Using a diverse sample of women in the United States seeking protection orders, the current study examines reproductive coercion as a predictor of women’s perceptions of future violence. Findings suggest that psychological abuse and, to a lesser extent, reproductive coercion are related to whether women believe their abuser will continue their abuse. Implications for research and services are discussed. 
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  6. Civil Protection Orders (CPOs) are among the most common legal tools that victims of intimate partner violence and abuse (IPV/A) use to protect themselves. The current study adds to the CPO research by using quantitative data to look at how female survivors' experiences with court personnel (attorneys, mediators, and hearing officers) shape their satisfaction with the court process, and what types of individual and court-related factors are related to perceived fairness of court personnel. The current study uses in-depth quantitative data collected from women over the age of 18 who sought a CPO due to violence from a male current or former partner. The findings indicate that women's satisfaction with the court process is significantly impacted by the perceived fairness of court personnel. In turn, specific behaviors by court personnel predict women's ratings of fairness of those personnel. Additionally, women's socioeconomic status impacts how fair they perceive the hearing officers to be. Court personnel play an integral role in helping victims navigate the legal system in ways that could protect their safety and influence how they perceive the CPO system as it relates to the abuse they have experienced. 
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