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JOURNAL ARTICLE

Rural Australian women's legal help seeking for intimate partner violence: women intimate partner violence victim survivors' perceptions of criminal justice support services

Angela T Ragusa
Journal of Interpersonal Violence 2013, 28 (4): 685-717
22929344
Intimate partner violence (IPV) is a widespread, ongoing, and complex global social problem, whose victims continue to be largely women. Women often prefer to rely on friends and family for IPV help, yet when informal support is unavailable they remain hesitant to contact formal services, particularly legal support for many reasons. This study applies a sociological lens by framing the IPV and legal help-seeking experiences of rural Australian women gained from 36 in-depth face-to-face interviews as socially contextualized interactions. Findings reveal police and court responses reflect broader social inequalities and rurality exacerbates concerns such as anonymity and lack of service. Cultural differences and power imbalances between survivors and formal support providers are manifested to inform future research seeking to improve survivors' willingness to engage and satisfaction with formal services. Finally, the important role police and the criminal justice system play in de-stigmatizing IPV and legitimating its unacceptability is argued a crucial, yet unrecognized, key to social change.

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