Date of Award
Master of Science (MS)
Dr. Carol Patrick
Advocating for victims of domestic violence has drastically evolved within the last few years through an increase of education and advocacy for victims, but there is still room for improvement. This study examines the relationship among gender of abuser, gender of victim, and type of abuse (physical or verbal) and participants reaction to witnessing domestic violence. In this experimental study, participants were randomly assigned to one of ten different vignettes describing a domestic violence scenario that varied the gender of the victim and the abuser, along with the type of abuse. Two of these vignettes did not mention the gender of the victim or abuser, only the type of abuse. Participants were then asked to infer the gender of the people described in the given scenario. Lastly, they were asked to rate their likelihood, on a five point rating scale, to do the following: leave the couple alone, call the police, verbally intervene, physically intervene, video the altercation, monitor the couple so the abuser knows there is a witness, or just watch the fight because it is interesting. Participants were also asked to fill out a general Victim Concern Scale to gauge their overall concern for victims and if there was any relation with the different types of vignettes. Higher levels of intervention for calling the police were found for scenarios where the gender was not specified. Physical violence was found to have a higher participant response rate than verbal abuse and the most likely response was to call the police. Consistent with previous research, this study found no significant difference in participants’ responses to vignettes when comparing heterosexual relationships to LGBTQ+ relationships. Interestingly, participants in this study equally assumed the gender of the victim and abuser. This research adds to previous studies by establishing the relationship among the variables listed and by being able to contribute knowledge to the understanding of domestic violence.
Stritt, Rachel, "Observer Reaction to Physical and Verbal Abuse in Relation to Gender and Sexual Orientation of Abuser and Victim" (2021). Master's Theses. 3181.
© 2021 Rachel Stritt