Safer / Stronger Program for Men with Disabilities

While research has begun to identify issues related to violence against men with disabilities, very little attention has been given to establishing effective methods for helping men in this population prevent, reduce, and eliminate interpersonal violence (IPV) from their lives. This study represents the first randomized controlled study of an internet-based violence prevention program, the Safer and Stronger Program for Men with Disabilities (Men’s SSP), which is specifically designed to meet the unique needs of men with diverse disabilities. Community-based programs for IPV prevention and intervention are just beginning their efforts regarding physical and sexual violence against men. However, those programs may not address disability-related abuse, such as the refusal to provide assistance with essential activities of daily living. Additionally, men with disabilities experience multiple barriers to accessing these traditional community-based domestic violence services.

The proposed project aims to work with the following three centers for independent living (CILs): Disability Network/Wayne County in Detroit, Michigan; Sources for Community Independent Living Services, Inc., in Fayetteville, Arkansas; and, Independent Living Resources in Portland, Oregon. These CILS will implement the following three interrelated studies involving 390 men with diverse disabilities: (1) the Men’s SSP Pilot Study, which will ensure the consistent implementation of the field-test and the fidelity of protocols (N = 30); (2) the Men’s SSP Field-test Study (N = 321); and (3) a Member-checking Focus Group Evaluation (N = 36) designed to provide qualitative feedback about respectively receiving and delivering the Men’s Internet SSP. 

The internet-based Men’s SSP was created by and for men with diverse disabilities. In a pilot study with 31 men with diverse disabilities, the Men’s SSP was well received; several participants said it validated their own experiences as men with disabilities and as male abuse survivors; and, the program gave men useful information about ways to make their current and future relationships safer (Oschwald, 2012). The Men’s SSP provides information about IPV against men with disabilities, risk factors, and safety-promoting strategies specific to lives of men with disabilities. The program integrates male survivor stories and affirming narration. The Men’s SSP Field-test will be a 3 x 3 (Men’s SSP alone, Men’s SSP in combination with support from a male 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 Men’s SSP, delivered by CILs alone or in conjunction with support from a peer who is a male 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 Men’s 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. 

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