• Formal Help-seeking among Female Victims of Sexual and Physical Violence: Individual, Interpersonal, and Incident Level Predictors

      Backes, Bethany Lynn; Harrington, Donna (2015)
      Statement of the Problem: Violence against women is a significant problem globally and in the United States. Compared to men, women are much more likely to be victims of sexual and intimate partner violence, putting women at risk for short- and long-term physical and psychological health consequences. Effective formal services decrease physical and psychological symptoms among female victims, and law enforcement, health care, or victim services may serve as entry points for victims seeking assistance. Researchers have identified numerous demographic, interpersonal, and incident characteristics as inhibitors or facilitators to formal assistance. This study explored such characteristics as predictors of formal help-seeking among female victims of physical and sexual violence. Standalone health or victim assistance, standalone law enforcement assistance, and comprehensive assistance (health or victim and law enforcement assistance) were examined based on the aforementioned predictors. Method: Five years of data (2008-2013) from the National Crime Victimization Survey were used for this study, with specific attention to interpersonal questions that were incorporated in 2008. The sample was comprised of females aged 18 and older that reported a sexual or physical victimization and sought one or more types of formal assistance. Descriptive, bivariate, and binomial logistic regression analyses were conducted. Results: Women used comprehensive assistance more often than either standalone service. Incident and interpersonal level variables were stronger predictors than individual level variables. Victims of sexual and physical violence sought differing types of assistance with victims of sexual violence less likely to seek law enforcement assistance. Weapon use was associated with law enforcement assistance, and injury was associated with health or victim assistance. Presence of physical symptoms and reported problems at work or in school were related to health or victim assistance. Conclusion: Findings from this study depict incident and interpersonal characteristics as key components for understanding the type of formal assistance sought by female victims of physical or sexual violence. Differing help-seeking strategies are used depending on the type of victimization. Continued study in this area should include incident and interpersonal characteristics and seek to separate findings based on type of victimization instead of broadly categorizing violence against women.