Intimate partner violence. It seems like a daunting issue that only comes up in TV shows until it affects a loved one or happens to you. This serious public health problem, and the focus of the 12th Annual School of Social Work Conference, happens to both male and female individuals of all ages, socio-economic statuses, and religious affiliations. BYU Social Work professor and conference organizer Jini Roby states that “because human relationships are the foundation of security and happiness in life, intimate partner violence (IPV) can seriously impair the quality of life. At the extreme end, it is a leading cause of homicide in our country. Without intervention, IPV will impact not only the couple but also the children involved.”
While there is some misconception that Utah and Utah County have lower IPV rates, the area is about average with the national norm. Professor Roby notes that “there is also a greater stigma [here] so victims don’t come forward as readily, allowing the problem to escalate and subjecting children to [the] trauma of witnessing the abuse.” This year’s Social Work Conference, held November 3rd from 8 am to 5 pm in the Wilkinson Center, will
- help professionals and community members understand the prevalence, dynamics, and impact of IPV on victims, perpetrators, and affected children in the family.
- improve understanding of IPV on the couple’s relationship and the power dynamics in the family.
- help individuals understand the research on IPV and how it can be used to develop effective treatment methods for victims, perpetrators, and affected children.
The conference will feature speakers such as
- Dr. Sandra Stith of Kansas State University, who has written extensively about treating and understanding IPV;
- Dr. Casey T. Taft of the National Center for PTSD in the VA Boston Healthcare System and Associate Professor of Psychiatry at Boston University School of Medicine, who serves as Principal Investigator on several grants focusing on understanding and preventing partner violence;
- Jennifer Oxborrow, the Executive Director of the Utah Domestic Violence Coalition and an active volunteer with the statewide Crisis Intervention Stress Management team debriefing first responders after traumatic incidents; and
- Stuart Harper, therapist and Treatment Coordinator at Orem’s Family Support and Treatment Center where he serves children and families whose lives have been affected by abuse and trauma.
For the schedule of when these individuals will present, click here. The Social Work Conference is formatted primarily for clinicians but members of the public are welcome. The conference may be particularly helpful for ecclesiastical leaders, community leaders and members, and family members of those affected by IPV.
When asked what someone could do to help a friend affected by IPV, Roby advised that they let the victim know that being a victim of domestic violence is not their fault. They should know that there are resources that they and their children can plug into. Some of these include:
- domestic violence hotlines for their area (they can also call 911 if it is an emergency),
- domestic violence service shelters in 17 cities in Utah ranging from Brigham City, St. George, Blanding and Vernal;
- legal services available through service centers.