Social work is perhaps most distinctive for its clear and outspoken commitment toward improving the well-being of society’s vulnerable and disadvantaged groups, while still emphasizing the importance of respecting and defending personal rights and freedoms. Though there is a fundamental necessity for coercion, or its threat, for eliciting civil social behavior in a well-functioning society, it is professionally and ethically imperative that social workers make explicit our rationales for, justifications of, and the evidence used to support or reject coercive practices in our work. Social work’s engagement with coercion inevitably entails the ethical and social policy arguments for and against its use, as shown in a review of the empirical evidence regarding its impact on the professions’ clients, exemplified by three domains: (1) child welfare, (2) mental health, and (3) addictions. Recommendations for future improvements involve balancing the potential for harm against the benefits of coercive actions.
Tomi Gomory and Daniel Dunleavy
Amber Sutton, Haley Beech, and Debra Nelson-Gardell
Intimate partner violence (IPV) affects millions of individuals yearly, both domestically and globally. Direct linkages exist between experiencing IPV and adverse health outcomes. No matter the type of service arena, social workers encounter IPV; for that reason, all social workers need to be familiar with IPV, its consequences, and potential interventions. One form of IPV that is often undetected and underreported is reproductive coercion (RC). Reproductive coercion, a relatively new term, focuses on birth control sabotage and pregnancy coercion. Reproductive coercion is directly associated with IPV in that power and control are maintained by stripping away autonomy and decision-making ability concerning one’s reproductive and sexual health. Although many victims of IPV will experience this type of sexual abuse, RC is a less discussed form of violence and is often difficult to detect through traditional screening processes, further delaying effective intervention. Reproductive coercion affects the overall emotional, physical, and psychological health of survivors, therefore social workers need to be able to identify specific RC behaviors and know how to appropriately intervene and advocate. A thorough review of the existing literature on the link between IPV and RC has been organized into practical application methods that social workers can use to inform micro, mezzo, and macro levels of practice. All practice methods are designed to aid in reducing harm caused by RC and to help increase survivors’ control over their own bodies and reproductive health. Such applications will include screening for potential abuse, recognizing risk and protective factors, introducing culturally sensitive interventions, and policy implications and recommendations.