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JOURNAL ARTICLE

'I don't need an eye for an eye': Women's responses to intimate partner violence in Sierra Leone and Liberia

Rebecca Horn, Eve S Puffer, Elisabeth Roesch, Heidi Lehmann
Global Public Health 2016, 11 (1-2): 108-21
25996201
This paper explores the possibilities for agency in intimate partner violence (IPV) situations from the perspective of women in Sierra Leone and Liberia using focus group discussions (N groups = 14, N participants = 110) and individual interviews (N = 20). Findings identify multiple interrelated factors influencing the decision-making of women experiencing IPV. At the individual level, emotional factors and women's knowledge of their rights and options influence their decision-making. At the relational level, the role of neighbours, family and friends is crucial, both for emotional support and practical assistance. At the community level, more formal structures play a role, such as chiefs and women's groups, though their effectiveness varies. At the structural level are barriers to effective responses, including a poorly functioning criminal justice system and a social system in which children often stay with fathers following separation or divorce. Strong cultural beliefs operate to keep women in abusive relationships. We identify implications for prevention and response services and make practice recommendations. Since the desire of most women experiencing IPV was to live in peace with their husbands, interventions should respect women's priorities by focusing more on prevention and interventions to end the violence, rather than solely assisting women to leave violent relationships.

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