Survival of intimate partner violence as experienced by women

Aune Flinck, Eija Paavilainen, Päivi Astedt-Kurki
Journal of Clinical Nursing 2005, 14 (3): 383-93

AIMS AND OBJECTIVES: The study set out to describe women's experiences of intimate partner violence, the consequences of such violence, the help they received and women's experiences of their survival.

BACKGROUND: Social and health professionals do not have sufficient ability to identify and help families who suffer from intimate partner violence. Methods for identifying and treating partner violence not have been developed adequately.

METHOD: The study was conducted in Finland by loosely formulated open-ended interviews with seven battered women. The data were analysed by inductive qualitative content analysis.

FINDINGS: Women had past experience of maltreatment and a distressing climate at their parental home. Women experienced both themselves and their spouse as having weak identities; their ideals, patterns of marriage and sexuality were different. Violence occurred in situations of disagreement. Women tried to strike a balance between independence and dependence in the relationship. The different forms of couple violence were interlinked. The women sought help when their health and social relationships got worse. An awareness of the problem, taking action, counselling and social relationships helped them survive. Religiousness was a factor that involved commitment to the couple relationship, made religious demands on women and promoted the recovery of integrity.

CONCLUSIONS: Intimate partner violence was associated with the family model, childhood experience of maltreatment, the partners' weak identity and conflicts between individualism and familism. Social and healthcare professionals need competence in early intervention and skills to discuss moral principles, sexuality, and violence in a way that is free of prejudice and condemning attitudes. Spiritual approaches in the context of interventions should be taken into consideration.

RELEVANCE TO CLINICAL PRACTICE: In a clinical context, nurses should be aware of the symptoms of violence, and they should have skills in dealing with intimate moral and spiritual issues.

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