The Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Intimate Partner Violence Advocates and Agencies.

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DOI: 10.1007/s10896-021-00337-7; PMCID: PMC8547898


Relatively few studies have considered the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on intimate partner violence (IPV) advocates or the agencies where they work. In this study, based on United States IPV advocates' experiences working with survivors during the COVID-19 pandemic, we conducted interviews to explore: 1) personal challenges and resilience working as IPV advocates during the COVID-19 pandemic; 2) how agencies adapted to the pandemic to support IPV survivors and advocates; and 3) specific needs and challenges of culturally-specific agencies. We conducted semi-structured interviews with 53 IPV advocates from June to November 2020. Participants were included if they worked directly with survivors, identified as an IPV advocate, worked at a US-based agency, and spoke and understood English. We created a sampling matrix to ensure adequate representation from IPV advocates serving survivors from communities which have been marginalized. Interviews were conducted through a virtual platform by a trained member of the research team. We used an inductive thematic analysis approach, with weekly coding meetings to resolve discrepancies in coding. Five themes emerged from the data: 1) IPV advocates described how working as an IPV advocate during the COVID-19 pandemic impacted them personally; 2) agencies developed new methods of addressing IPV advocates' needs; 3) agencies developed new solutions to address pandemic-related client needs; 4) transitioning advocacy work to virtual formats created challenges but also opportunities and; 5) pandemic limitations and impacts compounded pre-pandemic challenges for culturally specific agencies. IPV advocates are frontline workers who have played essential roles in adjusting services to meet survivor needs during the COVID-19 pandemic while simultaneously coping with pandemic impacts on themselves and their agencies. Developing inter-agency collaborations and promoting advocates' safety and wellbeing during future public health crises will help support IPV survivors.

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Journal of family violence





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COVID-19 pandemic; Intimate partner violence; Intimate partner violence advocates; Qualitative description; culturally-specific agencies; structural inequities

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