Perceptions of Women Receiving Services from Domestic Violence Advocacy and Counseling Programs
The purpose of this qualitative study was to examine domestic violence victims’ perceptions of advocacy and counseling programs that provide women with safe refuge, prevention education, mental health treatment, and other services. Many women in the United States are victims of intimate partner violence. Review of existing literature found that little is known about the extent to which the needs of these victims are met from available advocacy and counseling services. The health belief model was used to theorize victims’ perceptions of services and risk factors for re-abuse. A phenomenological design was used to answer research questions, and in-depth interviews were conducted with 8 women who stayed at a domestic violence shelter and used shelter services, such as advocacy, emergency shelter, and individual and family counseling. Data from the transcripts were inductively analyzed using NVivo 10.0 and hand coding techniques for emergent themes. The findings revealed that women were pleased with the services received, and most had no awareness of advocacy or counseling services until they sought shelter. Also, most agreed that counseling and advocacy services could help prevent re-abuse. Recommendations include establishing a google page for domestic violence shelters, which can provide information on available advocacy and counseling services and how they can assist victims of domestic violence. Study findings can promote positive social change by increasing awareness of advocacy and counseling programs and their importance to prevent re-abuse. This may also provide useful information for implementing new programs to help victims of domestic violence.