Date of Conferral





Public Policy and Administration


Glenn Starks


Abuse towards people with intellectual and developmental disabilities has been a long-standing area of study. One aspect of the post abuse process that has not been thoroughly considered is the perspective of abuse investigators. This is important because abuse investigators are to ascertain the safety of an alleged victim and then gather the information necessary to resolve issues with the intent to prevent further abuse. Using the Thomas theorem of interpretation and action, this study explored the experiences of abuse investigators by delving into how investigators’ experiences influence the conduct of an investigation and how investigators perceive their role and its impact. This study implemented an exploratory qualitative design with a case study approach. Data were collected using semi structured interviews with six human service industry professionals certified in the state of New York as abuse investigators on the date of their interviews. Data were analyzed through manual open coding and thematic identification. Identified themes were organizational service improvement as a result of abuse investigation recommendations, the need to improve communication amongst organizational and state-level stakeholders, and the acknowledgement of direct support staff skillset, knowledge, and awareness of the investigative process. Implications for positive social change include expanding awareness of all dynamics within the post abuse process as an additional effort to decrease abuse in provider agencies.