As social workers, it is our responsibility to attend to the needs in our community. Many of us will come in contact with a victim of domestic violence at some point during our career. That is why it is important to be aware of some of the signs and risk factors of domestic violence as well as gaining of knowledge of some of the resources that may be available in your community. In line with expectations set forth by the NASW Code of Ethics, it is essential that we understand domestic violence, advocate for those affected by it, and create a sense of awareness about the issue.
There are certain risk factors associated with the possibility of domestic violence. Some of these characteristics include low self-esteem, low academic achievement, delinquent behavior as a child, or alcohol and drug use. Other common traits include witnessing or experiencing domestic violence as a child, lack of social support in the community, and/or unemployment. Victims of domestic violence have also typically experienced marital conflict and/or dysfunctions within their family system. These issues can be due to emotional dependence, strong adherence to beliefs in gender roles, or a desire for power and control in relationships.
There are many ways that you can use this knowledge to help support victims of domestic violence. One of the best ways to support these individuals is to connect them to resources specifically geared toward victims of domestic violence. There are many crisis hotlines in existence that provide 24 hour assistance to those in need. One example is the National Domestic Violence Hotline which can be accessed by calling 1-800-799-SAFE. Information can also be found on their website at www.thehotline.org.
On a macro level, social workers can help educate the community about domestic violence and bring awareness of the prevalence of this crime in our society. There are many organizations that are committed to doing this type of work. You can get involved by getting connected to one these organizations like the Joyful Heart Foundation (www.joyfulheartfoundation.org), Live Your Dream (www.liveyourdream.org), or the National Network to End Domestic Violence (www.nnedv.org).