Safer/Stronger Program for Women With Disabilities

Field Test of Internet-Based Safer/Strong Program for Women With Disabilities

While research has begun to identify the prevalence, dynamics, and correlates of violence against women with disabilities, very little attention has been given to establishing effective methods for helping women in this population prevent, reduce, and eliminate interpersonal violence (IPV) from their lives. This study represents the first randomized controlled study of an internet violence prevention program specifically designed to meet the unique needs of women with diverse disabilities who constitute 15.4% of the 137 million non-institutionalized, civilian women ages five and over (U. S. Census Bureau, 2005). IPV poses a greater risk for women with disabilities than for women without disabilities (Hughes et al., 2010). Community-based programs for IPV prevention and intervention are known for their outstanding efforts regarding physical and sexual violence against women. However, those programs may not address disability-related abuse, such as the refusal to provide assistance with essential activities of daily living. Additionally, women with disabilities experience multiple barriers to accessing these traditional community-based domestic violence services.

The proposed project aims to work with three centers for independent living (CILs) to implement three interrelated studies involving 390 women with diverse disabilities: (1) a pilot study, which will ensure the consistent implementation of the field-test and the fidelity of protocols (N = 30); (2) an Internet SSP Field-test Study (N = 324); and (3) a Member-checking Focus Group Evaluation (N = 36) designed to provide qualitative feedback about respectively receiving and delivering the Internet SSP. The Internet SSP is an adaptation of our earlier computer-based prototype, which was shown to significantly increase abuse awareness when used with women with diverse disabilities. The SSP provides information about IPV, risk factors, and safety-promoting strategies while integrating survivor stories and affirming narration. The Internet SSP Field-test will be a 3 x 3 (Internet SSP alone, Internet SSP in combination with support from CIL peer staff, or a control group that will receive an equal-length health promotion internet program) randomized controlled trial to evaluate the feasibility and efficacy of the Internet SSP, delivered by CILs alone or in conjunction with support from a peer who is a female staff member with a disability. This study uses a within- and between-groups pre/post-test design with participants assessed at baseline, post-intervention, and three months follow-up. It is hypothesized that the SSP intervention, delivered alone or with peer support, will result in significant gains, as measured by three outcome variables (abuse awareness, self-efficacy for addressing abuse, and use of safety-promoting behaviors) when compared to the health program. We will use a general linear mixed models analysis to address this hypothesis. Our analyses will also include a comparison of the two SSP interventions and an examination of whether abuse history moderates the effect of the SSP on outcomes.

This project, which is designed to be applicable to domestic violence and disability-related service providers, offers an internet-based abuse awareness program designed specifically for women with diverse disabilities who often lack access to community-based IPV prevention programs. Finally, results from this study will have significant policy implications for the safety and well-being of women with disabilities and Deaf women.