While in recent years, intimate partner violence (IPV) has attracted considerable research attention, the experiences of IPV affecting the Deaf community have been understudied. As a linguistic and cultural minority, Deaf victims of IPV encounter significant barriers in accessing information and services designed to address the medical and legal consequences of victimization. The number of Deaf Americans who communicate via American Sign Language (ASL) may well exceed a half-million, yet little is known about Deaf IPV victims’ experiences and the characteristics of persons who perpetrate IPV with ASL users. This study addressed both topics. The current study is based on interviews in ASL with 14 Deaf IPV victims (participants). We explored: the types of abuse participants experienced; characteristics of victims and perpetrators; participants’ help-seeking behaviors; and the availability, use, and helpfulness of various resources. These findings were compared to what is known about IPV in the hearing community. Our findings include that lack of information regarding IPV and lack of access to specialized IPV services were pervasive problems affecting Deaf victims. For some victims, the close-knit nature of the Deaf community was a barrier for discussing IPV and accessing information and support. It was common for Deaf victims to receive services or information about IPV from providers who were not IPV specialists. Communication abuse was prevalent in our study. The nature of communication abuse is unique for Deaf victims compared to hearing victims.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Clinical Psychology
- Applied Psychology