Methods: We used cross-sectional data from the Black female respondents (N=3277) of the National Survey of American Life (NSAL), the largest and most detailed survey on Blacks residing in the United States. Using univariate statistics, we examined the prevalence of severe physical IPV among the sample, and then conducted bivariate analyses (chi-square, t-tests) and multivariate logistic regression analyses to examine help-seeking behaviors and predictors of help-seeking. All analyses were corrected to account for the complex sample design.
Results: Findings indicated that just over 17% (n=505) of women in the sample experienced severe physical IPV in their lifetime. Bivariate analyses indicated significant differences in help-seeking among those reporting severe physical IPV, compared to women who did not report severe physical IPV including seeking mental health and medical related services as well as services from a minister (p < .01). Some additional socio-demographic differences in help-seeking were also observed. Among the subsample of women reporting severe physical IPV, multivariate logistic regression analyses indicated that nativity (p < .001) was a significant predictor of mental health service seeking, age (p < .01) was a significant predictor of seeking help from a physician, and education (p < .05) was a significant predictor of seeking help from a minister/clergy. Participants also reported a range of barriers to help-seeking, including that the violence would get better by itself, among others.
Conclusions and Implications: The findings suggest that US Blacks including African American and Caribbean women who experience severe intimate partner violence do seek help and do so from a range of sources. However, the type of help women seek within the population varies based on several factors and suggests a need to tailor outreach and services in order to reach women who may not otherwise access them. Findings also suggest the need to work with a range of providers and key community members around IPV, and address barriers to care.