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Factors influencing help-seeking by those who have experienced intimate partner violence: Results from a New Zealand population-based study

Malihi, Z., Fanslow, J. L., Hashemi, L. ORCID: 0000-0001-6449-3834 , Gulliver, P. & McIntosh, T. (2021). Factors influencing help-seeking by those who have experienced intimate partner violence: Results from a New Zealand population-based study. PLoS ONE, 16(12), article number e0261059. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0261059


There is limited information about what influences help-seeking following experience of intimate partner violence (IPV). This study investigated determinants of formal and informal help-seeking by those who had experienced lifetime physical, sexual or psychological IPV.

A cross-sectional population-based New Zealand study conducted from 2017 to 2019 recruited 2,887 participants (1,464 women and 1,423 men) aged 16 years and older. Face-to-face interviews were conducted. Of these, 1,373 participants experienced physical, sexual or psychological IPV. Two series of logistic regressions were conducted: 1) comparing those who sought help with those who did not, and 2) comparing those who had not sought help with those who sought informal help only, or with those who also sought formal help.

Of the 1,373 participants who reported experience of physical, sexual or psychological IPV 835 participants (71.3% of women and 49.0% of men) sought some form of help. In both genders self-reported physical and mental health or work-related IPV impacts were significantly associated with help-seeking. Experiencing only one form of IPV was associated with lower odds of seeking formal help by women (Adjusted odds ratio = 0.38; 95%CI = 0.15, 0.92 for physical/sexual only and AOR = 0.37, 95%CI = 0.22, 0.64 for psychological only) compared to those experiencing concurrent types of IPV.

Conclusion and implications
Although there were gender differences in help-seeking, for both women and men the experience of greater impacts associated with IPV exposure increased the likelihood of help-seeking. Agencies providing services for people who are experiencing IPV need to be equipped to identify and respond to multiple forms of IPV, and prepared to address the suite of impacts experienced.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: Copyright: © 2021 Malihi et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
H Social Sciences > HA Statistics
H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
Departments: School of Policy & Global Affairs > Violence and Society Centre
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