Online Program

Coping with Intimate Partner Violence through Formal and Informal Support Groups: A Qualitative Evaluation of Services

Wednesday, November 4, 2015 : 12:30 p.m. - 12:50 p.m.

Isabella Chan, MPH, MA, CPH, Department of Global Health, The University of South Florida, Tampa, FL
Martha L. Coulter, DrPH MPH MSW, Department of Community and Family Health, University of South Florida, College of Public Health, Tampa, FL
Background: In 2010, Florida’s certified domestic violence shelters provided over 477,000 nights of emergency shelter to over 15,000 survivors and their children.  Along with shelter, these organizations provide advocacy, assistance finding housing and work, and social and emotional support, highlighting their crucial role in supporting survivors.  Support groups often focus on topics such as recognizing the violence survivors have experienced, enhancing self-esteem, and developing support networks.  These aims help to address symptoms that can result from abusive relationships, including anxiety, depression, and social isolation.  However, encouraging consistent participation in these groups can be difficult.  Purpose: Thus, this study explores women’s experiences with and perspectives on formal and informal support groups offered at a domestic violence shelter in Florida to better understand the barriers and facilitators to participation and perceived benefits to attendance.  Methods: On-going data collection is being conducted through semi-structured interviews (anticipated n=40) and two focus groups (anticipated n=15) with shelter residents, and secondary data analysis of shelter group statistics will complement qualitative findings.  Results: To date, participants have expressed positive sentiments regarding groups, focusing on both skill development, such as learning more about domestic violence, and the social and emotional benefits, such as feeling heard and giving/receiving support.  However, logistical and socio-emotional issues have arisen as barriers to participation as well.  Ultimately, the results of this research will provide rich, ethnographic insight into the perspectives and experiences of domestic violence shelter residents regarding support groups, which can aid in the improvement of services and enhance positive, healthy outcomes.

Learning Areas:

Program planning
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
Identify important barriers and facilitators to participation in formal and informal shelter-based support groups List and describe women’s preferences regarding support group services Discuss women’s perceived benefits to support group participation Formulate strategies for enhancing participation in support group services

Keyword(s): Domestic Violence

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am the principal investigator on this study and conducted all phases of research from proposal formulation to data collection and analysis.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.