Rurality's influence on women's intimate partner violence experiences and support needed for escape and healing in Australia

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26 Citations (Scopus)


A key factor for increasing help-seeking behavior among women experiencing intimate partner violence (IPV) lies in better understanding how social environment affects decisions about when and why individuals take action to end IPV. This article presents original data from 36 in-depth qualitative interviews conducted with women IPV survivors living in rural Australia to address urban-centric and quantitative biases in much IPV research. Derived from first-hand experiences, results reveal rurality's systemic challenges (economic disadvantage, unemployment, lack of informal support, limited availability/access to sociolegal and formal support services due to transportation and parenting responsibilities, quality alternative housing, and timely/relevant crisis counseling) exacerbated personal capacity to end IPV and sociopsychological factors (stigma, isolation, lack of anonymity, abusive partners' controlling behavior, and normative violence) thwarted IPV disclosure, help seeking, and healing in rural communities. Collectively, women's experiences evidence IPV's complexity as a social problem, misperceived definition, and breadth of influence. In-depth insights highlight location and culture's relevance to IPV knowledge, experience, service provision, and uptake, suggesting benefits may arise if practitioners and policy makers tailor IPV information and services, specifically crisis housing and counseling, in light of how rurality systemically stymies and psychologically affects women's best efforts to escape and heal.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)270-295
Number of pages26
JournalJournal of Social Service Research
Issue number2
Early online dateNov 2016
Publication statusPublished - 2017


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