Petersson CC, Hansson K
Clin Soc Work J - (-) 1-12 [2022-01-27; online 2022-01-27]
This study explores how social work professionals at women's shelters in Sweden experience, understand, and are responding to domestic violence under the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. A qualitative longitudinal research design was employed, and multiple semi-structured interviews were conducted with 14 professionals at women's shelters over a period of one year. The results are presented in three overall themes; (a) professional challenges due to increased needs, (b) professionals' adjustments to new circumstances, and (c) professionals' attributions regarding client barriers to help seeking. The results show diverse and changing experiences among the professionals as the pandemic progressed. Clients and professionals have shared the same collective trauma associated with the pandemic, which has affected the professionals' understanding of and response to domestic violence. The professionals understand both clients and themselves as being more vulnerable and susceptible to risk under these new circumstances. Social work adjustments focused on maintaining contact, reducing risk and prioritizing safety, which had both positive and negative consequences for both clients and professionals. The study concludes that the professionals coped with the uncertainty they experienced during the pandemic by relying on both their previous knowledge and work experience of domestic violence and their experience of sharing trauma with clients.