Rohn co-presents study findings at 4th European Conference on Domestic Violence

Emmanuel Rohn, a PhD #SOAN student and #CSSLRV graduate researcher, recently co-presented a research paper on “Individual and institutional barriers to help-seeking behaviour in Ghana” at the 4th European Conference on Domestic Violence (ECDV), 13-15th September 2021, Ljubljana, Slovenia. Although a global menace, intimate partner violence (IPV) is very high in sub- Saharan Africa, and Ghana is no exception. The literature shows the majority of women who experience IPV do not seek help. Meanwhile, there is limited understanding of the motivations and barriers to women’s help-seeking behaviours from an individual and institutional perspective. Co-presented with Dr. Eric Tenkorang of Memorial University (NFLD), this study begins to fill this gap. The study used qualitative data from 30 women in three of Ghana’s 16 administrative regions (i.e., Ashanti, Upper East, and Greater Accra) to explore their experiences with help-seeking after surviving IPV. In addition, 15 staff at the Domestic Violence and Victim Support Unit (DOVVSU) in the three regions were interviewed to explore barriers to help-seeking from an institutional perspective. Their thematic analysis showed low reporting of IPV cases among female survivors to formal support networks such as DOVVSU or the police, but high preference for informal support networks such as family members, religious and community leaders. The decision to seek help was motivated by fear of death, further escalation of violence, and not being able to bear more physical and emotional pain. Reported barriers to help-seeking included: stigma, fear of escalating the problem, fear of divorce, privacy concerns, and children’s presence in the relationship. From an institutional perspective, barriers ranged from inadequate administrative and logistical support, inadequately trained personnel, distance to DOVVSU offices, lack of privacy at DOVVSU offices, and financial constraints. These findings suggest that the barriers and motivations for help-seeking among female survivors of violence in Ghana are complex, suggesting the need to address these barriers from an individual and institutional perspective.

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