Why Do Female Domestic Violence Victims Remain in or Leave Abusive Relationships? A Qualitative Study

Rebecca L. Heron*, Maarten Eisma, Kevin Browne

*Bijbehorende auteur voor dit werk

OnderzoeksoutputAcademicpeer review

3 Citaten (Scopus)
239 Downloads (Pure)


Domestic violence has severe physical and mental health consequences, yet many women remain in abusive relationships. Domestic violence is generally more prevalent among ethnic minorities than among ethnic majorities. Yet, little is known about reasons to stay and leave within ethnic minority groups. Therefore, we examined reasons for staying in and leaving abusive relationships in an ethnically diverse sample of female domestic violence victims from the United Kingdom. In-depth interviews with 20 intimate partner violence victims (40% identifying as ethnic minority) were analyzed using template thematic analysis. We identified three main themes for why women stayed. The first theme was that of investment, which contained the subthemes of marriage, pregnancy, and keeping the family together. The second theme was that of entrapment, which contained subthemes of economic dependence, physical entrapment/social isolation, learned helplessness/coping mechanisms, and religious/cultural beliefs. The third theme was love (no subthemes). Additionally, we identified three main themes for why women left. The first theme was external support, encompassing subthemes of professional support and informal support. The second main theme was fear of harm, which included the subthemes of fear for negative effects on mental health and fear of physical harm. The third theme was that of protecting the children (no subthemes). Among ethnic minority women, some specific reasons to stay appeared more prevalent (i.e., religious beliefs). Identified themes are diverse and support cost-benefit analyses of domestic violence. Applying cost-benefit analyses in practice may enable victims to leave abusive relationships.

Originele taal-2English
Pagina's (van-tot)677-694
Aantal pagina's18
TijdschriftJournal of Aggression, Maltreatment and Trauma
Nummer van het tijdschrift5
Vroegere onlinedatum3-jan-2022
StatusPublished - 2022

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