COVID-19 Pandemic and Intimate Partner Violence: an Analysis of Help-Seeking Messages in the Spanish-Speaking Media

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Psychology | Social and Behavioral Sciences | Social Work


The role of the Spanish-speaking media is crucial for how Latinx communities learn about seeking help when experiencing intimate partner violence (IPV). This study investigated the IPV help-seeking messages disseminated by the Spanish-speaking media in the U.S. during the COVID-19 pandemic. We engaged in an exploratory content analysis of videos from Univision's main website, the most-watched Spanish-speaking media network in the U.S. We searched for videos related to IPV help-seeking posted from March 19-April 21, 2020-including the weeks after the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a global pandemic and the U.S. mandated a shelter-in-place. After assessing inclusion criteria, 29 videos were analyzed. Data were analyzed using basic content analysis to determine frequencies and inductive interpretive content analysis to code for help-seeking messages. We identified eight manifest messages related to seeking help when experiencing IPV in times of a crisis: (1) contact a professional resource; (2) contact law enforcement; (3) contact family, friends, and members of your community; (4) create a safety plan; (5) don't be afraid, be strong; (6) leave the situation; (7) protect yourself at home; and (8) services are available despite the pandemic. We found that the manifest messages alluded to three latent messages: (1) it is your responsibility to change your circumstances; (2) you are in danger and in need of protection; and (3) you are not alone. IPV and media professionals should ensure a structural understanding of IPV in their help-seeking messages and avoid perpetrating stigmatizing and reductionist messages.