Background: Little is known about the factors that influence the safety decisions of victims of intimate partner violence (IPV). This study sought to identify formal and informal safety strategies used by IPV victims, understand the issues that influence their safety decisions, and provide insight into how victim services providers can tailor their safety recommendations to be more responsive to these issues.
Methods: Semistructured in-depth interviews were conducted with 20 abused, predominantly African-American women recruited from legal clinics in greater Baltimore. All had sought a temporary protective order and received a Danger Assessment-based intervention. Interviews were coded and analyzed to produce a qualitative thematic analysis informed by the Ecological Model.
Results: Participants used a range of formal and informal safety strategies. Informal strategies included seeking social support, and individual strategies like avoiding the abuser and enhancing personal security. Formal strategies included accessing the law enforcement and legal systems, domestic violence shelters, and advocacy services. Women's social networks were an important source of either support or victim-blaming. Safety decisions were strongly influenced by participants' perceptions of increasing danger, although some minimized their danger. Women did not consistently prioritize their own needs and safety, but instead were often influenced by relational considerations, such as caring about abusers and safeguarding their children's stability and well-being. When women shared children with the abuser, they often tried to maintain those children's relationships with their father, even at risk to themselves. Additionally, women's workplaces were identified as important contexts for safety decisions. Finally, victim services providers' safety planning recommendations did not always match participants' needs, particularly when women were no longer living with the abuser.
Conclusions: This study enhances our understanding about the multiplicity of issues that influence IPV victims' safety decisions. Programs and policies aimed at reducing reabuse need to take into account victims' priorities and expectations, and target important contexts like the workplace. The findings also suggest that victim services providers' safety planning recommendations would benefit from the inclusion of a broader range of evidence-based strategies, and an approach that is tailored to victims' unique circumstances and needs.
|Advisor:||Agree, Emily M.|
|School:||The Johns Hopkins University|
|School Location:||United States -- Maryland|
|Source:||DAI-B 74/01(E), Dissertation Abstracts International|
|Subjects:||Social work, Womens studies, Public health|
|Keywords:||Domestic violence, Intimate partner violence, Safety planning, Violence prevention|
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