The Relationship between Professional Orientations, Staff Development and Overall Attitudes towards Victims of Intimate Partner Violence
Sparkes Wenzel, Carroll T.
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This researcher conducted her study from a radical feminist/constructivism perspective while examining the professional orientations of staff working in New Jersey Battered Women Shelters. The data was placed on a scale ranging from Clinical, utilizing the medical model, to Community Organizing, aligned with the battered women's movement philosophy. There is a third variable coded as other, thus referring to a little of both philosophies. Results were found to show workers with the orientations based in a community organizing/battered women's approach to be less likely to judge battered women who returned to their abusive partners. Significance was found in both the clinically defined group and the group defined as others. Clinicians were significant at a .002 level while the group others was significant at a .05 level. Results also indicated approximately 60% of workers in battered women shelters have a history of being violently victimized, thus creating other issues, such as a higher risk of vicarious trauma in helpers, resulting in numbing, distancing or over empathizing with the victims. These issues need to be addressed when educating and training social workers involved in helping trauma victims.;A constructivism /symbolic interaction/feminist approach to training social workers is discussed offering workers a way to combine both ideologies in a group setting, as well as a way to focus on knowledge delivery utilizing a social justice approach. Most importantly, as part of the recovery process, the survivor is to be coached to create her own dialogue, thus supporting an active involvement methodology regarding the healing process. In this scenario, social workers would empower the participants during group processes by utilizing active listening and positive reinforcement, as part of the treatment modality.;Key Terms: radical feminist, intimate partner violence, battered women, trauma, vicarious trauma, victim blaming, the battered women's movement, group work, symbolic interaction, constructivism, training.