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Help-seeking amongst women survivors of domestic violence: a qualitative study of pathways towards formal and informal support.

Abstract

BACKGROUND

Informal and formal support for women experiencing domestic violence and abuse (DVA) can improve safety and health outcomes. There has been little qualitative work on the role of both pathways to support and women's experiences of disclosing their experience of DVA in different contexts.

OBJECTIVE AND STUDY DESIGN

This qualitative study used repeat interviews with women survivors of DVA to explore their pathways to support and their experiences of barriers and facilitators to disclosure and help-seeking.

SETTING AND PARTICIPANTS

Thirty-one women seeking help from specialist DVA agencies in the UK were interviewed twice over 5 months.

RESULTS

Women recounted long journeys of ambivalence, often only disclosing abuse after leaving the perpetrator. Access to specialist support rarely came via general practitioners, despite high levels of consulting for anxious and depressed feelings, and was more often facilitated by police or housing agencies following a crisis such as assault. Informal disclosure only led to specialist help if the family member or friend themselves had experience or knowledge of DVA.

DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSIONS

Women experiencing DVA need earlier access to specialized DVA services. Many women needed an 'enabler' to facilitate access, but once this contact was made, disclosure to other professionals or to family and friends was legitimized in the eyes of the women. Safely accessible publicity about DVA services and an appropriate response from social and health-care professionals should be promoted, including support for women disclosing DVA to take action on the information they receive about services.

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  • Authors+Show Affiliations

    ,

    Centre for Academic Primary Care, University of Bristol, Bristol, UK.

    Centre for Academic Primary Care, University of Bristol, Bristol, UK.

    Source

    MeSH

    Adult
    Aged
    Attitude
    Domestic Violence
    Female
    Health Status
    Humans
    Mental Health
    Middle Aged
    Patient Acceptance of Health Care
    Professional Role
    Qualitative Research
    Referral and Consultation
    Safety
    Social Support

    Pub Type(s)

    Journal Article
    Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

    Language

    eng

    PubMed ID

    25556776

    Citation

    TY - JOUR T1 - Help-seeking amongst women survivors of domestic violence: a qualitative study of pathways towards formal and informal support. AU - Evans,Maggie A, AU - Feder,Gene S, Y1 - 2015/01/02/ PY - 2014/12/02/accepted PY - 2015/1/6/entrez PY - 2015/1/6/pubmed PY - 2016/11/1/medline KW - domestic violence and abuse KW - help-seeking KW - medical disclosure KW - qualitative study KW - women's experiences SP - 62 EP - 73 JF - Health expectations : an international journal of public participation in health care and health policy JO - Health Expect VL - 19 IS - 1 N2 - BACKGROUND: Informal and formal support for women experiencing domestic violence and abuse (DVA) can improve safety and health outcomes. There has been little qualitative work on the role of both pathways to support and women's experiences of disclosing their experience of DVA in different contexts. OBJECTIVE AND STUDY DESIGN: This qualitative study used repeat interviews with women survivors of DVA to explore their pathways to support and their experiences of barriers and facilitators to disclosure and help-seeking. SETTING AND PARTICIPANTS: Thirty-one women seeking help from specialist DVA agencies in the UK were interviewed twice over 5 months. RESULTS: Women recounted long journeys of ambivalence, often only disclosing abuse after leaving the perpetrator. Access to specialist support rarely came via general practitioners, despite high levels of consulting for anxious and depressed feelings, and was more often facilitated by police or housing agencies following a crisis such as assault. Informal disclosure only led to specialist help if the family member or friend themselves had experience or knowledge of DVA. DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSIONS: Women experiencing DVA need earlier access to specialized DVA services. Many women needed an 'enabler' to facilitate access, but once this contact was made, disclosure to other professionals or to family and friends was legitimized in the eyes of the women. Safely accessible publicity about DVA services and an appropriate response from social and health-care professionals should be promoted, including support for women disclosing DVA to take action on the information they receive about services. SN - 1369-7625 UR - https://www.unboundmedicine.com/medline/citation/25556776/Help_seeking_amongst_women_survivors_of_domestic_violence:_a_qualitative_study_of_pathways_towards_formal_and_informal_support_ L2 - http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/hex.12330 ER -