Bystander intervention in coercive control: Do relationship to the victim, bystander gender, and concerns influence willingness to intervene?

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Abstract

With rates of coercive control (CC) increasing, there is a need to ensure that intervention programs are underpinned by evidence-based research. Current interventions are scarce, with their efficacy rarely established. Most current interventions appear to rely on victims seeking support from formal sources/agencies, despite suggestions that victims are more likely to confide in people they know, such as their friends. Researchers suggest that a victim’s friends may provide an effective source of support and intervention. The aim of this study was to fill the gap in the literature exploring whether the closeness of the relationship to the victim, bystander gender, and bystander concerns influenced attitudes toward intervening in CC situations. The study used an experimental design, whereby participants were randomly allocated to read a vignette depicting a CC scenario involving a friend, colleague, or stranger, and quantitative methods were used to examine bystanders’ willingness and concerns about intervening. The sample was 340 Australian participants (229 female, 111 male), recruited from social media, namely community Facebook groups. The results indicated that friends were significantly more willing to intervene than colleagues or strangers, while strangers reported the highest concerns about intervening. Females reported significantly higher willingness to intervene than men despite also reporting higher concerns. Exploratory analysis of concerns about intervening revealed that the participants were most concerned about risk of harm and their beliefs in their ability to successfully intervene. These findings have implications for bystander intervention programs and campaigns, including offering a range of potential directions to enhance intervention program content.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-25
Number of pages25
JournalJournal of Interpersonal Violence
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - Feb 2024

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