Help Seeking Behavior among Women Who Report Intimate Partner Violence in Afghanistan: an Analysis of the 2015 Afghanistan Demographic and Health Survey

Nicholas Metheny, Rob Stephenson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations

Abstract

Ongoing internal conflict, high gender inequality, and a patriarchal society contribute to a high prevalence of intimate partner violence towards women (IPV) in Afghanistan. Seeking help from formal and informal sources can provide social support to IPV survivors, buffering negative health consequences. The purpose of this study is to examine the individual, interpersonal, and community-level factors associated with help-seeking for physical, sexual, and emotional IPV in Afghanistan using a nationally-representative sample of women aged 15–49. Data for this analysis comes from the 2015 Afghanistan Demographic and Health Survey. The outcome variable is a binary measure of informal or formal help-seeking behavior among women who reported physical, sexual, or emotional IPV in the last 12 months. Drawing on existing theory of help-seeking for IPV, key covariates included summative indices of health care use, decision-making power, and barriers to accessing health care measured at both the individual and community levels using multilevel modeling. Nearly half (46%) of women in the dataset reported experiencing some type of IPV in the past 12 months. Among the 20% of women who reported seeking help for IPV, informal sources of support were used almost universally. Engagement with the health care system, barriers to accessing health care, and decision-making power were all significantly associated with seeking help for IPV. IPV is widespread in Afghanistan and help-seeking is uncommon. A better understanding of what shapes help-seeking in this context may allow more women to disclose violence, increasing social support and reducing the negative health effects of IPV.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)69-79
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Family Violence
Volume34
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 15 2019
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Afghanistan
  • Help-seeking
  • Intimate partner violence
  • Social support

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Law

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