The lived experience of women victims of intimate partner violence

Alice Yuen Loke, Mei Lan Emma Wan, Mark Hayter
Journal of Clinical Nursing 2012, 21 (15-16): 2336-46

AIMS AND OBJECTIVES: This study aims to gain a better understanding of the lived experience of female victims of intimate partner violence. Background.  Intimate partner violence (IPV) is a complex and prevalent social problem associated with significant impairment in the physical and psychological health of victims.

DESIGN: Exploratory, qualitative design.

METHODS: Face-to-face interviews were conducted among nine IPV female victims who presented themselves at an emergency department of a regional hospital. Data were subject to thematic analysis.

RESULTS: Victims are often ashamed to disclose their situation and reluctant to seek help, afraid of being ridiculed or ignored. Violent experiences also lead to low self-esteem, depression, and suicidal ideas. They are ambivalent about staying in an abusive relationship and endure violent incidents in silence until they cannot tolerate any more and seek help at an emergency department. They have negative experiences in help-seeking: other family members and health professionals coloured by cultural restraints generally ignore their complaints and need for help.

CONCLUSIONS: Provided a preliminary understanding of the experience of Chinese women in Hong Kong. In support of these women's help-seeking behaviours, continuing education programmes are needed to better prepare health professionals for caring for these women.

RELEVANCE TO CLINICAL PRACTICE: Health professionals should be astute in identifying IPV victims with whom they come into contact at work. They should assess the immediate physical and emotional needs of these women, be empathetic, show acceptance, extend a helping hand and assess home safety before discharge.

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