Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Wichita Advocacy Project
by Solomons, Austin D., D.S.W., University of Southern California, 2020, 66; 28150038
Abstract (Summary)

The Wichita Advocacy Project (WAP) is a non-profit, social service program developed for survivors of intimate partner violence (IPV) in Wichita County, TX. The program is designed to address the Social Work Grand Challenge to Stop Family Violence. WAP eradicates two impactful social norms in treatment of IPV: The stigmatization of IPV treatment for IPV and the fear of the unknown for those taking their first step toward life free from IPV. WAP offers resources that provide anonymously located hotel rooms and other shared spaces, such as Airbnb, to individuals seeking respite from IPV throughout Wichita County, TX. These social norms are disrupted because using a hotel has virtually no stigma attached to it. People know what to expect when checking in and staying in a standard hotel room, which eliminates the fear of the unknown when it comes to taking the first step to stopping family violence. Using a traditional domestic violence shelter often comes with significant social stigma and fear of the unknown for survivors. These stigmatizing social norms are impactful enough to keep an IPV survivor in a dangerous home rather than seeking an established and effective intervention.

Some IPV survivors may only need a room for a night or two while they gather their thoughts, let the conflict at home de-escalate, and safety plan for their future. Other survivors might need significant social services, crisis management, or trauma-informed psychotherapy, which WAP is prepared to provide based on the extent of the need of each survivor’s individual needs and situation. Hotel rooms and other shared spaces often go unoccupied each night. By providing a safe space for survivors of IPV, WAP intends to help contribute to the reduction and eventual eradication of IPV in Wichita County, TX.

WAP was designed based upon two effective and evidence-based practices: the Housing First Initiative to help end homelessness and the Community Advocacy Project, which is used to provide treatment services in the community and in the homes of families involved with the child welfare system. Through research, innovation dynamics, subject matter expert interviews, and thorough real-life clinical social work practice experiences in Wichita County, TX, an identified gap lies between experiencing IPV and getting help for IPV. This gap in services for those enduring IPV will be closed using WAP. The social norms holding this problem of recurrent IPV in place is two-fold: 1) the significant perceived stigmatization of having others know that they are in an abusive relationship and 2) the fear of the unknown - what happens when reporting IPV as a crime or seek professional treatment for IPV. These two social norms are barriers between people experiencing IPV and receiving help to effective escape IPV. WAP is ideal for the person who needs help escaping IPV but would otherwise not use a domestic violence shelter because of stigma or fear of the unknown.

WAP collaborates with local hotels and Airbnb hosts to provide rooms and shared spaces to those seeking asylum from IPV. Often these shared spaces go unoccupied and the hosts lose money. To encourage these establishments to participate in this program, these hotels and hosts will receive tax-deductions for their in-kind donations. These contributions help to end violence in the community. These survivors of IPV who chose to use WAP receive a safe night’s sleep and access to helping agencies and people within the community. WAP is a disruptive innovation because it uses established shared spaces and repurposes them for survivors of IPV, thus, eliminating the stigma of domestic violence interventions. In addition to safe place to stay, survivors also may receive 10 weeks of counseling and case-management services that will help them succeed along their journey out of IPV.

The impact of this program will be measured using process, outcome, and impact metrics. WAP will measure these metrics using Feedback-Informed Treatment, the Outcome Questionnaire 45.2, the Stigma-Scale, the adapted Intimate Partner Physical Risk Assessment Tool, and by measuring the arrest records for family violence-related crimes in Wichita County. WAP expects to increase IPV interventions, reduce stigma related to IPV-related therapeutic interventions, reduce family violence-related crime by 20% over 10 years, and to be able to effectively help survivors eliminate IPV from their relationships and lives.

This program design is determined to significantly reduce IPV in Wichita County, Texas. WAP is intended to help stop IPV beyond just the local context. The fact that this program can be easily replicated in similar communities places the potential implications beyond only the local community. The key is finding similar structured communities with characteristics and applying the same principle in another location. WAP is designed to be replicated in other communities with similar characteristics and resources as are in Wichita County in order to help eliminate family violence throughout the state and country, one community at a time.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Smith-Maddox, Renee
Commitee: Bolar, Eleanor A, Rank, Michael G
School: University of Southern California
Department: Social Work
School Location: United States -- California
Source: DAI-A 82/4(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Social work, Individual & family studies, Criminology
Keywords: Capstone, Domestic violence, Family violence, Intimate partner violence, Non-profit, Program development
Publication Number: 28150038
ISBN: 9798678183552
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