Victims of Domestic Violence and Front-Line Workers: A Helping Paradigm (Report)

Domestic violence is a national health problem and involves virtually every sector of society, regardless of ethnicity, social status, religion, sexual orientation, or gender (Caetano, Field, Ramisetty-Mikler, & McGrath, 2005; Durose, Harlow, & Lagen, 2005; Shaver, Lavendosky, Dubay, Basu, & Jenei, 2005). It may include physical, emotional, psychological, and sexual aspects (Carlson, 2005; Dutton, Kaltman, Goodman, Weinfurt, & Vankos, 2005; Sackett & Saunders, 1999). Annually, more than 1.3 million women and 800,000 men are victims of domestic violence (Tjaden & Thonnes, 2000). However, these statistics only reflect victims who self-reported; it has been suggested that the numbers of victims who do not report are far greater (Felson, Ackerman, & Gallagher, 2005; Fugate, Landis, Riorden, Naureckas, & Engel, 2005; Szinovacz & Egley, 1995). Often, by the time victims present at counselors’ offices, some time has passed since the precipitating domestic violence incident. Many of these clients have already encountered law enforcement and emergency room personnel. Research has indicated victims encounter health care providers and social workers with limited knowledge about domestic violence. Moreover, these professionals may express negative attitudes (e.g., viewing the victim as weak or at fault) towards victims (Shields, Baer, Leininger, Marlow, & DeKeyser, 1998). Thus, counselors may play an important role in educating professionals who are the first point of contact for many domestic violence victims.

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