The second phase of the project, which is subject to additional funding, will involve speaking to and collecting information from male victims of violence directly. The aim of the second project phase is to elicit the views of male victims of violence regarding:
- the impact of the offence and participating in the trials of offenders on them;
- their experiences engaging in support services following the offence;
- the appropriateness of the support services they chose to engage with after the offence; and
- the type of support services that they wanted to have access to after the offence.
The findings from the second phase of the project will be used to confirm and/or challenge the findings from the first phase. While the views of stakeholders involved in the delivery of support services to male victims of violence are highly valuable, particularly in relation to identifying possible barriers to engaging with male victims, it is the victims themselves who are best placed to talk about the impact of the offence and/or attending court, their experiences attending court and the kinds of services they would have liked to engage with after the offence.
The proposed second phase of this research aims to understand the views and experiences of a range of male victims, including those who did not engage with formal support services and/or report the offence to the police. Gaining a better understanding of the factors that influence whether a male victim of violence will engage with formal support services (and their satisfaction with the support provided) requires sampling men who did and did not engage with such agencies.
The AIC have developed a methodological model for collecting primary data from male victims of violence, with the intention that the model will inform the proposed second phase of the project. The development of the methodological model was informed by a review of the relevant victimology/trauma literature, the stakeholder interviews and focus groups undertaken as part of Phase 1, and consultations with a representative of the AIC Human Research Ethics Committee.
Proposed methodological model
The AIC proposes to use both quantitative and qualitative research methods to collect primary data from male victims of violence. By using a mixed methods approach, the AIC will:
- maximise participant response rates;
- ensure that a broad range of male victims (including those who do not engage with formal victim support agencies and/or report the offence to the police) have an opportunity to participate in the project; and
- facilitate the use of methodological triangulation measures (one research method is cross-referenced with the data collected through another method to ensure the reliability of the research findings).
To be eligible for inclusion in the second phase of this project, participants will have to be:
- a victim of a non-sexual or non-domestic violence offence committed in New South Wales;
- have high levels of English proficiency (so they can participate in the research without assistance); and
- aged 18 years or older.
Importantly, respondents will not be excluded from the research if they did not report the offence to the police or engage with a formal victim support agency.
Survey of male victims of violence
The AIC will develop a brief survey that asks eligible respondents a series of questions about their victimisation experiences (particularly when they attend court), their help-seeking behaviours and the factors that influenced their decision to make or not make contact with formal victim support services. Respondents will also be asked a series of questions relating to their socio-demographic characteristics (eg age, Indigenous and marital status, sexuality and incarceration history) so that the research team is able to determine whether such factors influence victimisation experiences and help-seeking behaviours.
Respondents will be provided with three options for completing the survey—online, pen and paper or over the telephone. In the latter method, the questionnaire will be administered to respondents by a member of the research team over the telephone.
Survey respondents will be recruited through two means—an advertising campaign or via an invitation to participate in the project. Both recruitment methods require the AIC to work in partnership with a range of agencies and services operating in New South Wales.
To facilitate this partnership building process, prior to commencing data collection, the AIC will conduct a series of information sessions with the participating agencies so that they:
- understand the purpose and importance of the research;
- can approach potential respondents in a way that satisfies the ethical requirements of the project while also maximising response rates;
- have enough information about the project that they can answer potential respondent questions; and
- are supportive of and committed to the research.
The AIC will conduct a series of semi-structured interviews with male victims of violence who completed the survey and consent to further consultation (see above). Interviews will consist of a series of questions that will, like the survey, focus on the respondent’s experiences of victimisation and their help-seeking behaviours. However, the semi-structured nature of the interview process will provide participants with the opportunity to elaborate on responses they provided in the survey and will allow the research team to ask follow-up questions and investigate unexpected lines of inquiry. Interviews will be conducted either face-to-face or via teleconferencing/videoconferencing facilities.
Interview respondents will be identified from the survey. At the end of the survey, respondents will be asked whether they consent to participate in a follow-up interview conducted by a member of the research team. If they provide their consent, they will also be asked to provide their contact details and to state whether they would prefer to speak to a male or female research team member. The AIC suggests including the latter question in light of the findings from the stakeholder consultations which suggested that some men prefer speaking to women about their victimisation experiences while others respond better to other men.
Structured activity/focus group
When stakeholders were asked for their views regarding the best methods for engaging male victims of violence in research, a small number suggested that men are most comfortable discussing potentially sensitive information in group settings, ideally while taking part in a structured activity. Examples of suitable structured activities ranged from group counselling sessions (such as those provided by the Salvation Army and Enough is Enough), through to woodworking and small DIY projects (eg Men’s Sheds).
In light of this feedback, the AIC proposes to work with Victims’ Services to identify a suitable agency that already conducts such activities with male victims of crime and seek the consent of the agency and group participants to attend one of their sessions. The attending research team member will ask the group a series of questions that everyone will be encouraged to answer. The aim of this stage in the data collection process is to better understand and identify the factors that influenced these men’s decision to engage with the group.
Maximising response rates
Engaging victims of crime and other forms of trauma to participate in research is a difficult and sensitive undertaking. As such, many studies have involved the direct participation of victims of crime have been limited by low response rates and/or small sample sizes (Burcar & Ackerstrom 2009; Erez & Tontondonato 1992; NISRA 2004; Orth & Maerckler 2004; VAGO 2011; Willis 2008). To ensure that awareness of the project is widespread, the AIC will work in consultation with a range of stakeholder groups (including Victims’ Services) to develop and implement a targeted advertising campaign that will run in a number of locations in metropolitan and regional areas of New South Wales. The AIC will also work with a number of agencies to identify eligible male victims of violence who will be specifically invited to participate in the study. During the first phase of this project, the research team received in-principal support from a number of stakeholders to assist in recruiting participants for the second phase of the study.
The AIC has also identified a number of measures that could be integrated into the proposed research methods to maximise participant response rates. Identified measures included:
- providing research participants with three options for completing the survey (online, telephone and hardcopy) so that identified logistical issues are minimised while also providing respondents with different options for providing sensitive information;
- conducting comprehensive consultation with stakeholder agencies to ensure that the recruitment strategies are appropriate for the target audience;
- asking respondents to encourage their friends |and family who meet the eligibility criteria to participate in the research (snowball sampling);
- developing broad eligibility criteria for the study to increase the number of men who can participate in the study;
- providing participants with information about the study’s aims and purpose and in particular, how their information will be used;
- assuring respondents that the research team are not affiliated with the police or any other law enforcement agency and that their information will not be provided to any other agency;
- informing respondents that the experiences and help-seeking behaviours of male victims of violence is an under-researched area and that the study will be used to inform policy and practice and could help others (thus appealing to altruistic motives);
- making the survey and interview as brief as possible to decrease the perceived onerousness of participating in the study;
- in the case of follow-up interviews, providing respondents with the opportunity to identify whether they want to talk to a male or female research team member; and
- providing participating agencies with information to help them to identify and recruit eligible male victims of violence in a manner that satisfies the ethical requirements of the project as well as maximising response rates.