Help-Seeking Behaviors of Intimate Partner Violence Victims: A Cross-National Analysis in Developing Nations

Amanda Goodson, Brittany E Hayes
Journal of Interpersonal Violence 2018 August 23, : 886260518794508
There is a dearth of research on help-seeking behaviors of intimate partner violence (IPV) victims, especially within developing nations. The current study uses the nationally representative population-based Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS) of 31 nations to address this gap in the literature. Specifically, the study (a) assesses the extent to which IPV victims sought help in developing nations, (b) investigates from whom IPV victims sought help, and (c) evaluates individual and national factors that influence the likelihood of help seeking among IPV victims in developing nations. Given the hierarchical structure of the data, multilevel modeling techniques are used (individual level N = 65,530; national level N = 31). Descriptive findings revealed 34.88% of IPV victims engaged in help-seeking behaviors and the majority of victims who sought help reached out to family members (63.10%). Few IPV victims (3.24%) sought help from formal institutions. Results from the hierarchical generalized linear regression models indicated the severity of abuse, attitudes toward IPV, and indicators of empowerment all affected the likelihood of help seeking. National-level factors, including whether the nation had a law against IPV, were not significant. While providing formal services is important, policies designed to help IPV victims must recognize and address cultural barriers that may inhibit help-seeking behaviors. Because the majority of IPV victims sought help from informal support networks, it is important that individuals in these extended networks receive information about gendered norms and IPV so they can extend help and respond appropriately to family and friends.

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