A Critical Inquiry into Social Workers’ Perspectives, Theories, Models and Practice Contexts Related to Disabled Women Who Have Experienced Male Partner Violence

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Fleet, Claire
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Even though social work research on violence against women has increased in the last decade (Slayter, 2009), there is little research on social workers’ understanding of disabled women’s experiences of male partner violence (MPV). When there is a gap in research and practice evidence, this may lead to less than ideal work experiences because social workers may be lacking crucial information, to deliver meaningful support and assistance to disabled women. Given these findings, it was essential to hear from social workers who had worked with disabled women who had experienced MPV. The aim of this investigation was to inquire about social workers’ perspectives, theoretical approaches and practice contexts related to disabled women who had experienced MPV. In this collective case study, sources of data that were accessed included federal and provincial government legislation, position documents, provincial archives, academic literature and thematic analysis of ten transcribed interviews of key participants. Findings showed that even though provincial government policies or programs were the main influences on social workers’ practices with disabled women who had experienced MPV, work settings and social workers’ attitudes also played a crucial role in how participants understood disability and male partner violence. Social workers in this current study often found themselves in the middle, trying to respect service users by meeting their needs, while remaining accountable to a system that demanded efficiency and accountability. Social workers often advocated for disabled women because of barriers such as a lack of accessible housing, transportation or work. Factors such as social welfare policies, social work education and training that shaped social workers’ practices could be strengthened to help them to better meet the needs of disabled women who have experienced MPV.  
Disabled women, Social work, Male partner violence, Government policies