Communication Skills, Social Support, and Burnout among Advocates in a Domestic Violence Agency
Intimate partner violence affects millions of lives annually. Domestic violence advocates work to alleviate this problem; yet the nature of the work leaves them vulnerable to negative outcomes such as burnout. This study examined the relationships between communication anxiety, communication competence, perceived social support, and feelings of burnout among domestic violence advocates. Results from a survey of 69 individuals recruited from a US domestic violence agency show the combination of communication anxiety, communication competence, perceived emotional support, and perceived informational support accounted for approximately 13% of the variance in advocates' emotional exhaustion and 21% of the variance in advocates' experiences of reduced personal accomplishment. Responses also differ with the advocate's position in the agency. The following recommendations are offered: develop scenario-based communication skills training programs to reduce communication anxiety and increase communication competence, hold regular debriefing meetings to help advocates process their experiences and to receive peer support, and develop formalized mentoring programs that can provide social support for new workers.
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