The Culture of Pretence: A hidden barrier to recognising, disclosing and ending domestic violence

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Francis, Lyn
Loxton, Deborah
James, Colin
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2016
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Abstract

Aims and objectives: To explore in detail how women perceived their experience of domestic violence and leaving or ending the abuse. This research also examined how service providers identified their professional role in assisting women to end such relationships.

Background: Domestic violence against women continues to occur internationally. Reliable statistics are difficult to capture because of inconsistent definitions, contradictory methods of acquiring data and unreported incidents.

Design: A qualitative study, undertaken in two phases, was conducted in Australia.

Methods: Twelve women who had experienced domestic violence and ended those relationships participated in one semistructured interview (Phase 1). Twenty‐five professionals from health, social sciences and law, whose work included assisting women experiencing domestic violence, participated in three focus groups (Phase 2). Thematic analysis guided by a narrative inquiry approach forms the framework for information collection and interpretation of data in this project.

Findings: The barriers that impede women from disclosing abuse and taking action to end domestic violence are complex and varied between participants. Women did not always acknowledge or realise their relationship was precarious and often denied or minimised the abuse to cope with the domestic violence. Professionals identified that women did not always identify or acknowledge abuse inherent in their relationship although this delayed the provision of appropriate services.

Conclusion: Whether women disclose abuse or deny violence in their relationship, acceptance by service providers and the offer of support is crucial to assisting women in violent relationships.

Relevance to clinical practice: It is hoped that the findings may assist health practitioners, including nurses, to provide nonjudgemental support to women experiencing domestic violence whether women acknowledge the abusive relationship or not.

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Journal of Clinical Nursing
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Nursing
Nursing not elsewhere classified
Health services and systems
Public health
Psychology
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