Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Social Work, Ph.D.

First Advisor

Dr. Elizabeth P. Cramer


This study examined victims' perceived sense of empowerment during the process of seeking a Preliminary Protective Order. A cross sectional survey design with stratified sampling was used to gather information from women seeking Preliminary Protective Orders in Richmond City, Virginia. During a six month period 89 women agreed to participate, for a response rate of 83 percent. In general, the sample consisted of women who identified themselves as African-American, single, with either a high school/GED degree, and/or some college education.Overall, the women found the steps during the process of seeking an Order, either easy or very easy. In general, the participants responded positively to the steps outlined in the process index. Exceptions to the largely positive results included: getting help preparing a safety plan, explaining what you wanted to the judge, and learning about how to seek a Protective Order. The empowerment sub-scales' results suggest that overall the participants felt empowered during the process of seeking an Order. The final mean for each sub-scale was higher than the minimum score necessary to be considered a high score. The results of the multivariate analysis suggest that the process of seeking an Order was an empowering act on two of the three levels of empowerment studied. The two sub-scales found to have a positive and statistically significant relationship with the process index were the self-efficacy, and collective advocacy level. Alternatively, when utilizing the self-advocacy sub-scale as the dependent variable, only marital status was found to be significant. Implications for social work practice include practitioners educating themselves on legal protections for abused women and educating clients about the process of seeking an Order. Additionally, social workers should incorporate empowerment theory concepts while working with clients. Social work educators should incorporate empowerment theory throughout the curriculum and increase content on intimate partner violence and interdisciplinary teams. Additionally, social workers should consider partnering with other disciplines, such as criminal justice departments to offer cross-listed courses and certificate programs to prepare future professionals who will work in the domestic violence field. Policies to enhance victim-witness advocates' ability to assist victims and specialized courts are recommended.


© The Author

Is Part Of

VCU University Archives

Is Part Of

VCU Theses and Dissertations

Date of Submission

June 2008

Included in

Social Work Commons