UK College of Social Work Study Shows Black Survivors of Intimate Partner Violence Receive Less Workplace Support

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A new study from the College of Social Work at the University of Kentucky showed Black survivors of intimate partner violence (IPV) receive significantly less workplace support than their White counterparts. The study was published in the Violence Against Women Journal.

“When we compared their responses, we found Black survivors received support that significantly impacted two workplace disruptions,” said co-author Kathryn Showalter, PhD, of the University of Kentucky College of Social Work. “White survivors, however, received support that significantly impacted six workplace disruptions.”

To determine if a disparity existed between the workplace support received by White and Black IPV survivors, researchers analyzed anonymous survey data of IPV survivors who identified as women, were 18 years of age or older, had been employed at some point during their experience of IPV, and had not experienced cyberstalking at the time of the survey.

The study found that while both White and Black survivors experienced workplace disruptions that were harmful to their career advancement, only White survivors were offered significantly impactful help.

  • Black participants were less likely to be approached by a coworker and asked if they were okay.
  • None of the Black participants who had missed weeks of work were extended a help-seeking phone call by a coworker.
  • Black participants’ coworkers were less likely to show concern for their wellbeing during or after abuser-initiated workplace disruptions.

“By simply checking in with coworkers showing signs of intimate partner violence victimization, numerous abusive tactics can be impacted and possibly stopped,” Dr. Showalter said. “Where coworkers are falling short is in extending the same genuine concern to Black women in our workplaces.”

Other authors on the study include Theresia Pachner, PhD, of the College of Social Work, University of Kentucky, Lexington, Kentucky and Paige Maffett, law student, University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana, Illinois.

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For 85 years, the University of Kentucky College of Social Work (CoSW) has been a leader in social work education. As a college, we promote community and individual well-being through translational research and scholarship, exemplary teaching, and vital community engagement. We are committed to the people and social institutions throughout Kentucky, the nation, and the world. Like the University, CoSW is an organization that cultivates a diverse academic community characterized by interpersonal fairness and social justice. We are fiercely committed to developing outstanding social work professionals — leaders who will serve individuals, families, and communities through innovative and effective practices that are guided by cultural competency, systematic ethical analysis, and a keen and pragmatic understanding of the human condition.