Methods: We explore these mechanisms using 2012 representative surveys conducted in Kyrgyzstan (n=4,832) and Tajikistan (n=6,675) among women of reproductive age. To account for severity of spousal violence, we first develop a typology of spousal violence in each country using latent class analysis. Next, we assess mediation paths to decompose direct and indirect effects of: a) severe spousal violence; and b) husband’s drinking on women’s response. Fear of the husband and injuries induced by husband are mediating variables.
Results: The resulting typology reveals two latent classes of spousal violence: controlling behaviors of husbands (79% prevalent) versus severe mixed violence (21% prevalent). The class of severe mixed violence is associated with higher likelihood of seeking help, hitting husband, and divorce compared to the class of less severe violence. Direct effects of severe spousal violence are positive in relation to help-seeking, violence against husband, and divorcing from husband. Indirect effects of severe spousal violence via injuries are positive for help-seeking; for hitting husband; and for divorcing from husband. Indirect effects of severe spousal violence via fearing husband are mixed: positive in Kyrgyzstan for help-seeking and negative for hitting a husband and divorcing. Direct effects of husband drinking are positive for help-seeking, violence against husband, and divorcing from husband for both samples. Indirect effects of husband drinking via injuries are positive for help-seeking; hitting husband; and divorcing from husband. Indirect effects of husband drinking via fearing husband are mixed: positive for help-seeking and negative for hitting a husband and divorcing in Kyrgyzstan.
Implications: Findings of the study suggest significant implications for policy and practice. Low rates of help-seeking with both formal and informal sources and divorcing from husband as a result of violence suggest weaknesses of societal mechanisms in responding to spousal violence and highlight the need to strengthen capacities of criminal justice and welfare systems. Due to the nascent nature of social work in Central Asian region, there is a dire need to develop practice models to provide assistance to women experiencing spousal violence in the context where women are subjected to severe violence and where response mechanisms are underdeveloped.