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.
Rachel Voth Schrag
Assistant Professor, School of Social Work, University of Texas at Arlington
Assistant Professor, University of Texas Medical Branch