It is extremely important for people to be aware and informed about intimate partner violence or domestic violence, so that they will know how to act if ever they are faced with it and also what they should expect from their violent partners (Bogeanu, 2012).
Women who are in abusive relationships may not want to disclose the fact that they are a victim of domestic violence and also may not want to seek assistance from community agencies for a few reasons. For some it may be because they do not find the abuse they have experienced, or are experiencing, serious enough to seek help; they may not find available community resources useful; perhaps some are not aware of the full range of available resources; they may not be able to seek help because they are prevented by their abusive partner (Fugate, Landis, Riordan, Naureckas, & Engel, 2005).
Werner-Wilson, Zimmerman and Whalen (2000), identified several precursors to leaving an abusive relationship. These precursors include defining a relationship as abusive, reinstating a sense of self and hope for the future, knowing a safe place to go when leaving a violent or abusive partner, and having the confidence that through community support you can start a new life.
Survivors of domestic violence indicate higher levels of trust when they seek help from health care professionals. Survivors can speak to health care professionals openly about their experience, maintain confidentiality, share in decision making, are compassionate and nonjudgmental, and research has also found that it can be helpful if the health care professional is willing to share personal information with the survivor (Battaglia, Finley, & Liebschutz, 2003).
In a phenomenological study conducted by McLeod, Hays, and Chang (2010), found that the survivors in their study used both community and personal resources in their process of leaving an abusive partner. They found that there are major themes for personal and community resources both having positive and negative effects for survivors of domestic violence. For personal resources the major themes are: needing social support, desiring personal validation, engaging in self-care, and reaching out to others. For the community level of resources the major themes are: receiving adequate assessment, feeling validated through community response, being offered protection, and having support options.
Battaglia, T., Finley, E., & Liebschutz, J. M. (2003). Survivors of intimate partner violence speaks out: Trust in the patient-provider-relationship. Journal of General Internal Medicine, 617-623.
Bogeanu, E. (2012). The role of social services in the context of intimate violence. Revista de Asistenta Sociala (Social Work Review), 11(4), 153-174.
Fugate, M., Landis, L., Riordan, K., Naureckas, S., & Engel, B. (2005). Barriers to domestic violence help seeking: Implications for intervention. Violence Against Women, 11, 290-310.
McLeod, A., Hays, D. G., & Chang, C. Y. (2010). Female intimate partner violence survivors’ experiences with accessing resources. Journal of Counseling and Development, 88, 303-310.
Werner-Wilson, R., Zimmerman, T. S., & Whalen, D. (2000). Resilient response to battering. Contemporary Family Therapy, 22, 161-188.