Strategic responses to intimate partner violence against women in Spain: a national study in primary care

Isabel Montero, Isabel Ruiz-Pérez, Vicenta Escribà-Agüir, Carmen Vives-Cases, Juncal Plazaola-Castaño, Marta Talavera, David Martín-Baena, Rosana Peiró
Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health 2012, 66 (4): 352-8

BACKGROUND: Research on women''s responses to intimate partner violence (IPV) has largely been limited to women who have been exposed to severe physical violence with scarce generalisation. This study aimed to analyse how Spanish abused women from different backgrounds and with different IPV characteristics respond to violence.

METHOD: Women experiencing IPV before the previous year (1469) were selected from a large cross-sectional national survey of adult women recruited during 2006-7 among female patients seeking medical care for whatever reason in primary healthcare services. The outcome variables were women's responses to IPV and the predictor variables were personal and social resources profiles and characteristics of the abuse (type, duration and women's age at onset). Stepwise logistic regression models were fitted.

RESULTS: 87.5% of abused women took some kind of action to overcome IPV. Significant differences on personal and social profile and type and duration of the abuse were detected between the three strategic responses: distancing, in process and inhibition. The probability of a woman responding with a distancing strategy (seeking outside help or leaving temporarily) is almost three times greater if she is employed, was young when the abuse began, had experienced physical and psychological abuse and when the abuse was under 5 years.

CONCLUSIONS: The results of this study show that personal and social resources and the specific circumstances of the abuse should be taken into account to understand women's responses to IPV. Well-validated interventions targeted at abused women's needs and the circumstances of IPV remain a priority.

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