Every day people face with injustice and various kinds of personal struggles. A social worker is a person, who dedicated his/her professional performance to minimize loses and protect victims from their abuses or harmful externalities. Due to the extraordinary variety of social issues, a social worker should constantly develop his personal skills and knowledge to provide the clients with better services. The core element of societal work is an analysis of the issue. It is a necessary condition for an effective implementation of advocacy. According to Hoefer, an understanding of issue consists of several stages, in which small steps produce greater knowledge and understanding of the problem (Hoefer, 2016, p. 62). This paper analyzes a domestic violence in terms of five-step analysis mode in the first section and assesses author's personal strengths and weaknesses in the second section.
Define the Issue
This step has a significant meaning for a social work, because it determines its direction, methods and techniques, which will be used. If they are wrong, so advocacy will fail and one will waste a valuable time. Hoefer underlined that categorizing of the issue has a crucial impact on how this issue will be solved (Hoefer, 2016, p. 64).
Domestic violence is a well-spread kind of abuse. It is considered to be an ugly scourge in American society during many years (Shuler, 2010, p. 163). It covers both physical and emotional abuse. The forms of violence are emotional abuse, isolation, control, coercion, and treats of aggression or assault. Possible signs of emotional abuse are telling you which things you can never do, humiliating or shaming you, calling you a bad partner. Isolation, however, manifests itself in controlling whom you see or where you go, prohibition to see friends or family, and alienating to attend work or school. Taking money or controlling over household spending, refusing to give extra expenses, and preventing from taking own decisions are examples of control form of domestic violence. Coercion, in its turn, is pressuring to have sex unwillingly or act sexually in an uncomfortable way, or pushing to take alcohol or drugs. Lastly, threating of aggression or assault one can characterize with looking or acting fearfully, destroying property, and intimidating with knives, guns or any other weapons (Mantel, 2013, p. 988).
It is often very difficult to evaluate scopes of the problem, because many cases stay unknown to specialists. Victims deny to report about the cases of domestic violence due to several reasons, such as fear of the abuser, feeling of shame, and unwillingness to bring considerable changes in their lives. However, specialists have conducted many researches to measure the scope and character of the problem and provide following statistics.
According to the U.S. Department of Justice crime surveys, an amount of incidents of domestic violence has declined by over the half during the last two decades (Mantel, 2013, p. 982). This decrease can be the result of a growth of shelters and more strict enforcements. Furthermore, billions of dollars were spent into social programs and training. Thus, despite all taken measures, the rate of victims is still impressive. Each year more than 12 million of adults suffer from physical abuse, rape or stalking (Mantel, 2013, p. 982).
Decide Who Is Affected and How They Are Affected
To decide who is affected and how they are affected is the next step in understanding the issue. Despite the fact, that defining the one who benefits from a problem may seem odd, such perspective helps a social worker to remember that laws, conditions, and rules are not random circumstances (Hoefer, 2016, p. 71).
Domestic violence is common to all ethnic groups and affects both genders in heterosexual and homosexual intimate relationships. According to the multi-country survey, which was conducted in 2005 by World Health Organization (WHO), depending on a region, between 15% and 71% of women will experience domestic violence (Giridhar, 2012, p. 2). An abuse definitely causes a negative effect on women. It destroys their physical and mental health and decreases their economic capacity. An inability of victims to attend work generally brings some material loses to society. Moreover, an abused women increase the level of health care delivery that significantly elevates its cost (Giridhar, 2012, p. 3). In such a way, domestic violence affects whole society in general. Decreasing its scopes will reduce women's general capacity in economy, politics, and social spheres of life, which will have macro- and micro- benefits (Giridhar, 2012, p. 3).
There is a popular misbelief that only women are subjects of domestic violence. However, due to the researches provided by the National Violence Against Women Survey, 834, 700 men are physically abused annually by their familiar partner (Tsui, 2014, p. 121). Another research shows that males appeared to seek for help of professionals less often than women (Tsui, Cheung, & Leung, 2010, p. 769). There was a specialized survey aimed at defining the reasons why male victims refuse from help, and which suggestions could help enhance social services for male clients (Tsui, Cheung, & Leung, 2010, p. 771). This name of this survey was Male Victims of Partner Abuse. It collected data through social service organizations.
After data analysis, specialists defined five reasons of males' refuse to use social services. They are service target perception, embarrassment, denial, stigmatization, and fear. A service target perception manifests itself in males' belief that social services are helpful for women and are useless for men. Lack of knowledge about available resources is also an obstacle for male clients on the way of getting a necessary help. Among 68 participants, twenty people shared such perception (Tsui, Cheung, & Leung, 2010, p. 772).
The next most spread comprehension is feeling of embarrassment and shame. By the way, fourteen participants have indicated such reason. Male victims do not want to report cases of abuse to avoid additional problems. Furthermore, respondents felt ashamed, because of being a victim and labeled feminine means to be "weak". Denial, which was accepted by nine respondents, included a negation of fact of being abused and recognized partner's actions as abuse. Stigmatization, however, is a belief that a male is not believed by social workers or police to be involved in abuse relationship as a victim. In such case, men prefer to avoid stigmatization by others. It is a common concept that male would rather leave things for a while instead of confronting it, due to their fear to be recognized as an abuser. The last blocking factor was fear. Even so, it does not have so significant meaning as in female cases; it still has its impact. Males indicated a fear of repercussions, threat of retaliation and of being labeled by the others. Through the survey, specialists got much suggestion of improving service for male clients. They are advocating for public awareness and education, developing of gender-sensitive services and training (Tsui, Cheung, & Leung, 2010, p. 774).
Among various communities, the scope of domestic violence is often underestimated in LGBTQ community and even ignored. According to researches, LGBTQ survivors do not get appropriate services and resources, such as housing, as frequently as heterogeneous women do (Lovett, 2015, p. 15). Some organizations provide an additional outreach, while others consider it unnecessary, because they do not see non-heterogeneous clients. Victims from this community often feel fear to seek for help in organizations because they are uncertain about their shelter experience. Furthermore, staff should a special training too. In such way, providing LGBTQ community victims of domestic violence with adopted to their needs services can positively affect a life of separate individuals and enhance their position in a society in general.
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Decide What the Main Causes of the Issue Are
This stage of understanding the issue is based on the two previous stages. In almost all the cases it is possible to determine the approximate causes of the problem. In many searches, determination ends with a discussion about religious or philosophic convictions (Hoefer, 2016, p. 74). After completing this stage, it is possible to start looking for effective solutions to the issue.
Causes of domestic violence vary from one case to another. Thus, it is possible to decide the most prevailing among them. Conforming to the researches, certain college degree of both partners significantly decreases a risk of abuse. In its turn, secondary education is associated with a decrease of abuse rate in almost two thirds, comparing to couples, where neither woman nor man has achieved it (Abramsky &Whatts, 2011). Abuse history is considered as one of the strongest causes for domestic violence. If one of the partners or both of them suffered from or experienced some types of abuse in his/her childhood or observed their close relatives being a survivor, the risk of intimate partner violence increases rapidly (Abramsky, &Whatts, 2011). Alcohol, non-partner-violence, and other relationships ruin harmony in couples also contributes to the cases of domestic violence.
Generate Possible Solutions to the Issue
Generating possible solutions to the issue is the next stage in Hoefer’s mode. It is the most difficult and, at the same time, the most interesting part of the analysis. There are four approaches to generate solutions. They are brainstorming, the "George Costanza", the "What can be done?", and "Win-Win" or "Super Optimizing" approaches (Hoefer, 2016, p. 77).
Through the work in agency "Victim Response Inc./The Lodge" the issue of lack of resources and services for male and LGBTQ victim of domestic violence was determined. Notwithstanding the fact that organization constantly gets appeals from them, there are still not enough possibilities to help abused persons through agencies or on its website (The Lodge, n.d.). Male survivors of abuse can stay at a shelter during a shorter period than female ones. Furthermore, an accommodation is equipped with the lens of heterosexuality, so LGBTQ clients will not be comfortable with such conditions. Thus the possible solution to the issue is to suggest VRI/The Lodge to develop their shelter in order to meet needs of male and LGBTQ clients. In addition, it is advisable to hold an additional staff training to teach them to provide those victims with appropriate services.
Review Proposed Solutions to Determine Their Impact on Social Justice
The fifth step in the mode is reviewing proposed solutions to determine their impact on social justice. The social worker should decide how proposed solutions will lead to social justice, or what will happen if they are implemented. Six thinking hats is one of the approaches, which gives an opportunity to quickly and in details examine proposed solutions (Hoefer, 2016, p. 79).
A proposed solution to expand the shelter to meet needs of males and LBGTQ survivors will decrease their fear to seek for help in social organizations, because they will not feel ignored and neglected. Moreover, such solution will increase their trust to social care agencies. Additional training also will help to produce trust among clients and staff. Furthermore, even the level of homophobia can be decreased. In such a way, proposed solutions on micro- level will help those clients get an appropriate housing and social services. In mezzo- level, those solutions will enhance people's knowledge about the problems of such clients and strengthen their position in the society. Lastly, on macro- level suggested solutions will lead to larger policy changes and empowering clients in the way of including them into implementing this necessary change.
Domestic violence belongs to one of the widest spread social issues. Despite the common misbelief, it affects all of the ethnic groups, genders, and communities. Male and LGBTQ victims often feel ashamed and fear to seek for help in social care agencies due to the several reasons. Possible solutions to this issue, particularly in VRI/The Lodge agency, are to equip shelter in order to provide them with appropriate and comfortable conditions. Moreover, staff should be trained to work with representatives of LGBTQ community. Those solutions will bring changes on macro-, mezzo-, micro levels of the society.
Reflection of Personal Strengths and Weaknesses in Terms of Leadership and Communication
This author's main strength is openness for changes. The work in social sphere requires a constant development of skills and obtaining new techniques. Due to the feature of a current epoch, a social worker should learn how to use informational technologies to benefit his/her clients and policy in general. Electronic advocacy is one of such technology implementations in this sphere. Firstly, this term was determined in 1997 (Hoefer, 2016, p. 160), but with the rapid development of information technologies it has changed greatly. It was proved that connection to the network has benefited more than a similar uncoordinated action conducted by numbers of people (Hoefer, 2016, p. 167). Hence, using the Internet is a powerful tool for implementing social changes.
On the other hand, this author's weakness is a lack of knowledge. This factor prevents one from the way of implementing changes. The author realizes that uncertainty in some aspects can lead to negative consequences instead of enhancing the agency and policy awareness. Moreover, this author feels the lack in communication, which will prevent building a successful dialog with staff, minimizing benefits of implemented changes.
Personal Goals Surrounding Advocacy
According to the NASW Code of Ethics, a social worker is a professional, who benefits society at local and global levels, promotes a development of people and their surrounding (Hoefer, 2016, p. 25). This author's goal is to match this definition. Moreover, he considers advocacy as the most effective and significant part of social work. The author desires to advocate for people in need and provide them with housing and suitable resources, including victims of domestic violence, who were discussed in Section 1.
The openness to change is the main author's strengths. He emphasizes the importance of implementing benefits of informational technologies in order to enhance a social work and advocacy in particular. The weakness of the author is a lack of knowledge and communication, which stop him from taking changes. His goal is to provide people with appropriate resources and services with the help of advocacy practice.