Method: Data were taken from the first wave of a multi-wave study of women who received civil legal services in one Midwestern state in the United States. All 150 women in the sample experienced IPV and received legal services for a civil protective order or a family law matter (e.g., divorce, custody). The Intimate Partner Violence Strategies Index (IPVSI) was used to assess how many and which strategies women used to stop or cope with IPV during the course of their relationship. The women had a mean age of 32.07 years and were in the relationship with their male partner for an average of 7.36 years. Latent class analysis was used to group women into classes based on their strategy use. The number of classes in the final model was selected after determining the selected classes were interpretable. One-way ANOVAs were used to assess differences in classes by length of relationship, types of IPV, income, education level, and geographic location. Covariate models were fit one variable at a time to simplify interpretation.
Results: Women used safety strategies from all six IPVSI categories (formal, legal, safety planning, informal, resistance, and placating). Women used an average of 21 different strategies (range: 4-35) to stop or cope with the violence during their relationship. All but one woman used resistance strategies and all but one woman used placating strategies. A four-class solution was identified and women were grouped as: high strategy users, moderate users-resistance, moderate users-placating, and low strategy users. Length of relationship and education level were associated with strategy use but types of IPV victimization were not.
Conclusion: Women who experience IPV display important differences in which safety strategies they use. Understanding how safety strategies differ based on context is essential to developing interventions that are individualized to each woman’s situation. Service and outreach efforts should be focused on reaching different classes of women.