Importance: Intimate partner violence (IPV) is a serious national problem noted in Healthy People 2010 and the CDC Injury Research Agenda. The Deaf community is an understudied linguistic, cultural, and disability minority group whose IPV risks and experiences are virtually unknown. Preliminary studies, most conducted by this research team, suggest that the deaf population experiences higher levels of IPV than the general population and more frequent and serious IPV injury consequences such as emergency room visits and suicidality. To be maximally effective, IPV intervention and prevention strategies must be responsive to the language, culture, and other characteristics of the target population. Moreover, if, as our clinical and research experience suggests, IPV perpetrator characteristics and manifestations of IPV affecting the Deaf community differ from general population norms in significant ways, then etiologic research identifying those differences must precede and inform the development of IPV prevention and intervention strategies targeting the deaf population, as well as guide further research on this important topic. Objectives: (1) To investigate and describe risk and protective factors associated with characteristics of IPV perpetrators who are involved in violent relationships where one or both partners are deaf and communicate via American Sign Language (ASL). (2) To investigate and describe risk and protective factors regarding the ways IPV behaviors manifest in relationships involving one or more deaf individuals who use ASL, especially behaviors associated with greater injury and mortality risk. (3) To compare and contrast these study findings with current knowledge regarding risk and protective factors associated with IPV perpetrators and perpetration behaviors in the general population. (4) To utilize study findings to make recommendations for future research, intervention, and prevention efforts aimed at preventing and/or reducing the injury consequences of IPV in the Deaf community. Study Design: This etiologic, cross-cultural study will be conducted by a multidisciplinary team of deaf and hearing researchers. A period of study team cross-training precedes the data-collection activities. The majority of study data accrues via 90 semi-structured interviews with three distinct participant groups (see below). We employ a mixed-methods study design based on a social ecological model of IPV origin, continuation, and severity. Rigorous qualitative and quantitative methods will be employed, the latter focused on three well-regarded IPV measures used in this study on an exploratory basis. The study goal is to discover Deaf community-specific IPV risk and protective factors by triangulating data from our three participant groups, and further assess these findings via presentation to three "respondent verification" focus groups consisting of Deaf community IPV perpetrators (2 groups), and victims/service providers (1 group). Setting: The 90 semi-structured interviews forming the core source of study data will involve geographically diverse/balanced samples from our three respondent categories (see below). Most of these interviews will involve deaf people communicating in ASL and will take place via "videophone" technology which allows point- to-point, distant audio-visual communication and, therefore, communication in ASL. Participants who are hearing or hard-of-hearing can choose a telephone interview. Two of the three, face-to-face respondent verification focus groups will take place in southern California, where collaborators run the country's only two programs serving deaf IPV perpetrators. The third will take place in Rochester, New York. Participants: Three respondent samples will participate in our semi-structured interviews: (1) individuals (professional and lay) who provide services to deaf IPV perpetrators or victims (N=30), (2) deaf IPV victims (N=20), and (3) individuals (regardless of hearing status) who have perpetrated violence in relationships where one or both partners is a deaf ASL-user (N=40). An additional 15 individuals will participate in the respondent verification focus groups that comprise the final phase of the study - 10 IPV perpetrators (2 groups of 5), as defined above, and one group of 5 deaf IPV victims and service providers. Interventions: This study does not involve interventions. Outcome Measures: We will employ a mixed-method data analysis approach, involving rigorous qualitative analysis of interview and focus group data and quantitative analysis of these data in relation to data accrued through the exploratory use of three well-regarded measures of IPV during the semi-structured interviews with deaf IPV victims and perpetrators (N=60 total). Also, an Evaluation Task Group will investigate and gauge the ongoing and final success of the project through a quarterly series of formative and summative evaluations.
TO PUBLIC HEALTH STATEMENT Intimate partner violence (IPV) is a serious national problem identified by federal authorities and many professional societies. When IPV occurs in unique subpopulations, such as minority groups, etiologic research must guide the design of prevention and intervention strategies if they are to be maximally effective. The American Deaf population, which is a severely understudied language and disability minority group, experiences high rates of IPV and deserves quality etiologic research aimed at reducing this high-priority public health burden.
|Pollard Jr, Robert Q; Sutter, Erika; Cerulli, Catherine (2014) Intimate partner violence reported by two samples of deaf adults via a computerized American sign language survey. J Interpers Violence 29:948-65|