Although 1 in 3 women, 1 in 4 men, and 30-50% of trans and non-binary survivors will be affected by domestic violence in their lifetimes., survivors of domestic violence (DV) rarely receive enough support or attention. Abuse is often mythologized as a private matter. Domestic violence accounts for over 1,500 deaths annually in the United States. Beyond being a public health issue, the consequences of DV and ongoing physical, mental, and emotional abuse on the survivor's physical and mental health are enormous.
The first step in domestic violence intervention is addressing DV as a public health crisis. As we bridge the gaps in understanding domestic violence's real and lasting impact, actual change can only come when resources are shifted into action. If you would like to assist DV survivors in ways other than direct service advocacy, here are four possible careers you can consider and the qualifications needed.
Social workers are a diverse group of professionals who help restore a person’s capacity to live a healthy life. Social work education varies across historical, socio-cultural, economic, and political contexts. Because social work is advocated by accompanying regulatory bodies and a set code of ethics, a degree is required for professional practice.
A social worker can practice in family service agencies or NGOs, providing individual counseling and treatment planning for survivors to regain stability in their lives. They offer support in myriad empathic and practical ways, including coordinating responses to federal institutions to provide healing for survivors of DV. Several social service providers are advocating for permanent housing with support services for DV survivors who have become vulnerable after fleeing their homes. This way, the accommodation provided gives security in the aftermath of abuse.
Informed by principles of sociology and various non-legal fields, criminology focuses on studying crime and the criminal justice system through a multidisciplinary lens. Criminologists can pursue multiple careers in a wide range of settings, such as community service, corrections, or law enforcement.
To become a criminologist that focuses on domestic violence, you will need a criminal justice degree with a specialization in fields related to DV, such as social welfare and psychology. Learning to write detailed criminal reports will be crucial, as part of your career will be creating research papers on different areas of DV. This will then be used by law enforcement, government, and social service bodies to help combat the rising number of cases.
Lawyers fulfill the heavy role of interpreting the law, rulings, and regulations for their clients. Consequently, those who want to pursue a career in law need to meet several standards and licensure requirements. Completing a bachelor’s and law degree aside, you will need to take a state bar exam. Moreover, character and fitness reviews are required to vet your capacity to act morally.
In DV cases, survivors can benefit mainly from trauma-informed lawyering, which is a type of legal representation that seeks to engage with clients in a safe and empowering manner. Vivianne Mbaku finds it imperative for civil legal aid attorneys to integrate trauma-informed practices to reduce re-traumatization. Lawyers can, and should, do periodic check-ins with a DV survivor’s health care provider and support network to better adapt their practice to the survivor’s emotional and mental needs.
A counselor offers guidance for individuals who wish to work through mental health, wellness, education, and career goals. Counseling necessitates a master’s degree in psychology, human development, or teaching. Licensure regulations for counselors require a practical application and even national exams depending on your state, while certifications are offered at both clinical and non-clinical levels. Counseling develops a future professional’s capacity to nurture and encourage, which becomes increasingly detrimental to establishing boundaries and ensuring the safety of your patients. For DV survivors, counselors can open a safe discussion space to help inspire a productive conversation about the experience. In doing so, a counselor can assess the severity of the survivor’s mental and emotional strain and move them towards the appropriate coping strategies and safety plans. Instances of domestic violence are never solitary and are often compounded with extensive trauma that makes healing difficult. The time and interest you devote to looking into any of the careers mentioned above may be a step in the right direction to improve the lives of DV survivors.