, Volume 28, Issue 4, pp 381-391
Date: 22 Mar 2013

Social Workers’ Attitudes towards Intimate Partner Abuse in Younger vs. Older Women

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Intimate partner abuse is defined as threatened or actual physical, sexual, or psychological abuse by a current or former partner. The present study examined responses of 212 social workers, who were randomly assigned one of four case vignettes describing intimate partner abuse. Vignettes varied by age of perpetrator and victim (elderly vs. young) and type of abuse (emotional vs. physical). Social workers tended to define intimate partner abuse against an elderly woman as non-abusive, in contrast to intimate partner abuse against a young woman. As a rule, social workers tended to favor therapeutic interventions more than legal interventions. However, in the case of intimate partner abuse against an elderly woman, social workers tended to prefer legal interventions. Specific training designed to help social workers to better understand their own ageist attitudes (i.e., age related discrimination) should supplement the training of social workers.