Online Program

Tweeting #WhyIleft and #WhyIstayed: Analyzing the conversation around intimate partner violence on Twitter

Monday, November 2, 2015 : 11:00 a.m. - 11:15 a.m.

Jeanine Guidry, M.S., M.P.S., Department of Health Behavior and Policy, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, VA
Kellie Carlyle, Ph.D., M.P.H., Department of Social and Behavioral Health, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, VA
Ariella Tabaac, M.S., Department of Psychology, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, VA
Caroline Orr, M.A., M.S., Department of Social and Behavioral Health, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, VA
Rowena Briones, Ph.D., Richard T. Robertson School of Media and Culture, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, VA
Abigail Conley, Ph.D., Department of Counselor Education, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, VA
Background: Intimate partner violence is a pressing public health problem with significant consequences for individuals and society. As such, understanding the dynamics of abusive relationships, including why women remain in relationships with abusive partners, is of great interest to researchers and advocates alike. Social media provides a unique opportunity to examine this phenomenon and the social context in which it occurs.

Method: This study examines public engagement on Twitter in the ongoing #WhyIStayed/#WhyIleft conversation, which emerged in the aftermath of a widely-circulated video showing NFL player Ray Rice violently attacking his then-fiancée. A random sample of 1,000 tweets including the hashtags #WhyIleft and #WhyIstayed were extracted during a 3-month period from October through December 2014. In a quantitative content analysis, two independent investigators coded for a variety of individual- and group-level factors including the content of the tweets, and the frequency of retweets and favorites on these posts. Further analyses on the public’s media engagement will be interpreted through the lens of social support and empowerment theories.

Results: Salient themes of discussion are identified across the entire sample, as well as for each hashtag independently. Individual and shared constructions of empowerment, control, and choice will be discussed, and the coping role of social media will be explored. Final analyses will be completed by April 30, 2015.

Conclusions: The findings suggest that Twitter can be an important platform for empowering abuse victims through the discussion of shared experiences. Implications for advocacy and engagement through the effective use of social media are discussed.

Learning Areas:

Public health or related research

Learning Objectives:
Explain how stress and coping influence social media engagement pertaining to difficult topics, such as intimate partner violence. Analyze how those affected by intimate partner violence voice expressions of coping on Twitter. Describe implications for advocacy and messaging on behalf of those affected by intimate partner violence.

Keyword(s): Social Media, Domestic Violence

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am a doctoral student in Social and Behavioral Health at the Virginia Commonwealth University, as well as an affiliate graduate researcher with VCU’s Center for Media+Health. I have taken extensive coursework in content analysis methodology and social media research. Together with my co-authors I have published prior peer-reviewed research and have presented at conferences on issues pertaining to social media (Twitter in particular), health communications, and violence prevention.
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.