University of Texas at Arlington (United States)


Survivors of domestic and sexual violence, and service agencies that support them, are facing unprecedented challenges as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. Preliminary data point to a sharp increase in the rate and severity of violence, as social distancing guidelines trap survivors at home with abusive family members and increase the difficulty of accessing services (Piquero et al. 2020; Jaramillo 2020). Agencies are faced with rapidly shifting to virtual service models while handling increases in survivor need and managing squeezed budgets. Service providers need evidence-based information to continue this rapid shift to a new practice context. This study aims to (1) uncover survivors’ experiences with safety in the context of social distancing, (2) understand changes within domestic violence services, including shifts towards virtual services, and (3) identify effective strategies to prevent and mitigate the impact of violence in the context of the pandemic. Individual interviews (n = 80) will be conducted to collect qualitative data from a purposively sampled group of domestic and sexual violence survivors who have faced safety challenges during the coronavirus pandemic (n = 40) and violence service professionals who have provided services during the coronavirus pandemic (n = 40). Findings will be shared with domestic and sexual violence service agencies, academics, and the public through a range of socially distanced dissemination strategies, with the ultimate aim of supporting effective services for survivors of violence in the context of the coronavirus, enhancing survivor safety and reducing the impact of domestic violence.

Principal Investigators

Rachel Voth Schrag

Assistant Professor, School of Social Work, University of Texas at Arlington

Dr. Rachel Voth Schrag is an assistant professor at the University of Texas at Arlington School of Social Work. Her research focuses on secondary and tertiary prevention strategies for survivors of intimate partner violence, particularly community-based survivor-centered services. Ongoing projects focus on campus-based advocacy with survivors of intimate partner and sexual violence, long-term outcomes for survivors of violence who engage with transitional housing programs, and the implementation of evidence-based practices in the violence-against-women service sector. Prior to entering the academy, she worked in direct practice roles in economic education and advocacy with survivors. Dr. Voth Schrag holds an MSW and PhD from Washington University in St. Louis and has been working in both research and practice capacities in the field of intimate partner violence intervention and prevention for 15 years.

Leila Wood

Assistant Professor, University of Texas Medical Branch

Leila Wood, PhD, MSSW, is an assistant professor at the Center for Violence Prevention Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB). Dr. Wood is a social work researcher with a PhD and BSW from Indiana University and a MSSW from the University of Texas at Austin. Dr. Wood’s program of research focuses on community- and college-campus-based interpersonal violence intervention and prevention approaches and the health impacts of interpersonal violence, specifically intimate partner violence (IPV) and sexual assault. Dr. Wood focuses her work across the lifespan, with a focus on adults and children at risk for IPV and sexual assault. Dr. Wood uses collaborative research models with community-based partners to meet the research and evaluation needs of the practice and policy communities across the state. Dr. Wood has extensive social work practice experience working with survivors of IPV and sexual assault. Her work is funded by the National Institute on Justice and the Criminal Justice Division, State of Texas.