Barriers and Facilitators of Disclosing Domestic Violence to the UK Health Service

Rebecca L. Heron*, Maarten C. Eisma, Kevin Browne

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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Domestic violence victims frequently visit health care facilities yet rarely disclose, so it is important to understand what factors are barriers and facilitators of disclosure. UK-based qualitative investigations into barriers and facilitators of disclosure in health care settings have suffered from a limited focus on ethnic minority women. Therefore, the aim of this study was to explore victims’ perceptions and experiences of disclosing to health care services and to identify barriers and facilitators of disclosure within an ethnically diverse UK sample. Semi-structured interviews were administered among 29 British (8 ethnic minority) female victims. Content analysis demonstrated that barriers to disclosure were; emotional (e.g., fear, embarrassment/shame and self-blame), physical (e.g., partner’s physical presence, controlling behavior, and manipulation of professionals) and organizational (e.g., appropriateness of setting and time for disclosure). Additional problems for ethnic minority women were language difficulties and religious practices. Facilitators to disclosure were interpersonal relations, safety, and validation from health care professionals. Barriers and facilitators of disclosure in health care services are diverse and some are specific to minority ethnic groups. Health care professionals should receive awareness and skills training to establish a positive, validating, and safe environment for victim disclosure.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)533-543
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Family Violence
Early online date4-Jan-2021
Publication statusPublished - Apr-2022


  • Battered women
  • Disclosure
  • Domestic abuse
  • Health care professionals
  • Intimate partner violence
  • IPV
  • Nursing
  • Support seeking

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