#OTalk 31st March 2019 – Occupational Therapy’s role in Domestic Violence

@Alannah_OT is our guest host this week this is what she has to say

This topic is sensitive and difficult and I want to ensure that the appropriate warnings are in place for conversations that may take place during this OTalk for anyone who has experienced domestic violence.

Last year I wrote an essay for one of my final assignments in my degree. We were given the opportunity to choose an area of practice that may be considered contemporary or role emerging. I chose to write on the topic of what an occupational therapists role would look like working with survivors of domestic violence and trauma. It is an area that I wanted to educate myself on but also to understand what services and support look like for survivors. I have summarized my findings below.

Domestic violence  is serious issue in society, where human rights are not fulfilled which emphasizes he restriction of participation in meaningful occupations (Townsend et al., 2010). Domestic violence is a pattern of incidents of controlling, degrading, threatening, and violent behaviour (Women’s Aid, 2018), that an estimated 70 percent of women worldwide have experienced in their lifetime (WHO, 2013; UN Women,2018). Syron (2010) suggests that domestic violence disrupts an individual’s participation and engagement in meaningful occupations, daily living and social interactions, causing survivors to experience aloss of empowerment, self-esteem, loss of identity and quality of life (Underwood, 2009; Dysinger et al., 2015).Occupational therapists have person- centered, therapeutic reasoning, and analytical skills to address occupation-related and well-being concerns of survivors of domestic violence (Dysinger, 2011; Dysinger, 2015), facilitating an individual’s ability to participate in meaningful occupations, leisure, work, play, and activities of daily living (Helfrich et al., 2006; Underwood, 2009; Jahaverian, 2010). Though there are occupational therapy roles that involve domestic violence history or trauma, there is limited evidence to demonstrate the success in practice or where these practices are taking place.

A survey completed by survivors showed inconsistent care in services across the UK, with many areas offering generic services without specialized input (Coy et al., 2009; Roddy, 2013). Wilson, Fauci, and Goodman (2015) suggest bringing trauma-informed practice to domestic violence programs, which develops goals and needs from an individual’s experience of trauma and considers their choice, control, and safety. This topic exposed gaps in current practice, revealing that occupational therapists may have inadequate knowledge and negative views about the area of domestic violence and unwilling to veer away from traditional practice (Hammell, 2018).

The aim of the OTalk is to encourage a conversation around occupational therapists experience, knowledge, views, and skills in working with individuals who have experienced trauma through domestic violence.

  1. Do you have any experience working with individuals who have experienced domestic violence? If so, what setting?
  2. What do you think are the occupational disruptions of survivors of domestic violence?
  3. What do you think the occupational therapy role can provide for survivors or people who are currently experiencing domestic violence?
  4. Do you think  occupational therapists could do more to explore and implement trauma-informed care for this population?
  5. What do you think are the key challenges of implementing occupational therapy in domestic violence services? If so, how could this be challenged?


Hammel, K. (2018) ‘Opportunities for well-being: The right to occupational engagement’, Canadian Journal of Occupational Therapy, 84(4-5), pp. 209-222. Available at: http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/0008417417734831(Accessed: 4 November 2018).

Jahavarian-Dysinger, H., et al. (2015) ‘Occupational Needs and Goals of Survivors of Domestic Violence’, Occupational Therapy in Healthcare, 30(2), pp. 175-186. Available at: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.3109/07380577.2015.1109741 (Accessed: 2 November 2018).

Javaherian-Dysinger, H. and Underwood, R. (2011) ‘Occupational Therapy Services for Individuals Who Have Experienced Domestic Violence’, American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 65(6), pp. S32-S35. doi:10.5014/ajot.61.6.704.

Javaherian-Dysinger,H. and Underwood, R. ( 2011 ) ‘Occupational therapy services for individuals who have experienced domestic violence’, American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 65(6), pp.32-45.

Syron,C. (2010) ‘The Role of Occupational Therapy with Domestic Violence Survivors’, Emerging Practice CATS, 2. Available at:https://commons.pacificu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?referer=https://www.google.co.uk/&httpsredir=1&article=1003&context=emerge(Accessed: 30 October 2018).

Underwood, R. (2009). Care of self: Construction of subjectivities of low-income, female survivors of domestic violence as they pursue postsecondary education. University of Georgia: Athens.

UN Women (2018) Facts and figures: Ending violence against women. Available at: http://www.unwomen.org/en/what-we-do/ending-violence-against-women/facts-and-figures(Accessed: November 12 2018).

World Health Organization (2018) Violence Against Women. Availabe at: http://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/violence-against-women (Accessed: 7 November 2018).

Women’s Aid (2018) What is Domestic Abuse?. Available at: https://www.womensaid.org.uk/information-support/what-is-domestic-abuse/ (Accessed: 7 November 2018).

Post Chat Updates:

Online Transcript from HealthCare#

PDF of Transcript: #OTalk Healthcare Social Media Transcript March 30th 2020

The Numbers

1.429M Impressions
296 Tweets
58 Participants

#OTalk Participants


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