Central Data Catalog

Citation Information

Type Book
Title Help-seeking Behavior of Jamaican Women in Abusive Relationships
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2008
Publisher ProQuest
URL http://books.google.com/books?id=GCNvbtColqUC
Cultural differences among countries require culturally-specific intervention strategies to assist women subject to intimate partner violence (IPV). The current study explores one aspect of IPV, the help-seeking process of women in abusive relationships (WARs) in Jamaica, with particular focus on the decision to seek help. I applied an ecological orientation to develop a grounded theory of help-seeking through interviews with 20 mostly low-income Jamaican women who had been or are still being abused. I found two motives for women's help-seeking, severity of the abuse and feelings of frustration associated with the situation; these motives were connected to factors at different ecological levels. Overall, severe abuse prompted women to seek help, but with time feelings of frustration became the dominant motivator. Also as time passed and feelings of frustration increased, WARs sought help from a wider range of sources and increase their intent to end the relationship. At the community level, WARs frequently exposed to community violence may be especially sensitized to seek help when they are physically abused. The Jamaican context was also reflected in participants' experiences. The acceptance within some communities of violence in relationships negatively affected both participants' decision to seek help and how some helpers' responded. Jamaica's economic situation affects WARs' experiences directly by forcing them to stay in abusive relationships to survive, and indirectly as formal organizations are constrained in their ability to provide services. Informal systems, namely, family and friends, are the persons most often sought for help by Jamaican WARs. The police are the most frequently contacted formal system and often serve as a connection to other formal services. Among formal services, counseling organizations most consistently received positive ratings by participants, while the criminal justice system was rated poorly for the inconsistency in the quality of its services. Natural informal supports exist in low-income communities, wherein residents offer help unasked. This phenomenon of unsolicited helpers should be further examined and harnessed. Despite the limitation of the sample being predominantly low-income, these findings indicate the need to consider factors beyond the individual woman and to examine specific cultural context when developing support systems for WARs.

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