Suffering and smiling: West African immigrant women's experience of intimate partner violence

Olayide Ogunsiji, Lesley Wilkes, Debra Jackson, Kath Peters
Journal of Clinical Nursing 2012, 21 (11-12): 1659-65

AIMS AND OBJECTIVES: This study reports the intimate partner violence experiences of West African women living in Australia.

BACKGROUND: Increasing diversity in Australia's population presents new and complex challenges to nurses and other health care providers, particularly in relation to the health needs of immigrant women.

DESIGN: A qualitative naturalistic inquiry design was used.

METHOD: A convenience sample of 21 West African immigrant women in Australia who were 18 years and over were engaged in face-to-face, in-depth interviews and asked to talk about their health experiences. The interviews were transcribed verbatim and analysed thematically. Intimate partner violence was revealed as a major theme in this analysis.

RESULTS: Data revealed that eighteen of the women had experienced intimate partner violence. The women's accounts of intimate partner violence were dominated by two subthemes 'suffering in silence' and 'reluctance to seek help.'

CONCLUSION: Findings revealed intimate partner violence as a significant issue for the newly migrated African women who participated in this study.

RELEVANCE TO CLINICAL PRACTICE: Intimate partner violence is associated with significant adverse physical and psychological health outcomes. It is important that nurses understand the cultural barriers that can impede immigrant women's ability to seek out and receive appropriate support and intervention and provide opportunities for women to disclose experiences of intimate partner violence.

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