Seeking help to protect the children? The influence of children on women's decisions to seek help when experiencing intimate partner violence

Silke Meyer

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44 Citations (Scopus)


Intimate partner violence (IPV) has a detrimental effect on the wellbeing of victims and their children. Situational as well as individual factors shape victims' responses to the experiences of IPV in many ways. This study uses a quantitative approach to examine the factors that influence victims' decisions on whether and where to seek help. The role of (unborn) children has been examined together with other demographic and situational factors to reveal their influence on victims' help-seeking decisions. Two items were used to measure the role of children, including victims' pregnancy at the time of the abuse and children residing with the victim and witnessing the abuse. Relevant findings derived from the analysis of a sub-sample of women interviewed in the process of the International Violence Against Women Survey (IVAWS) 2002/03 are discussed throughout this paper with a specific focus on the role of children. While the presence of unborn children (i. e., pregnancy) had no effect on victims' help-seeking decisions, children witnessing the abuse emerged as the strongest predictor of general and more formalized help-seeking decisions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)713-725
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Family Violence
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • Child exposure
  • Domestic violence
  • Help seeking
  • Intimate partner violence
  • Responses
  • Victims

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