Several factors influence a victim’s decision on whether or not to seek help after experiencing IPV. The objective of this study is to comprehensively examine the relationship between help seeking and the influence of social cultural factors in Kenya. This study draws on the Cultural Determinants of Help Seeking (CDHS) model to explore the question: do sociocultural factors influence help-seeking behavior among women who experience IPV in Kenya?
Methods: The study used data from the Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS) for Kenya (2014), which is based on a nationally representative sample of ever married women (n=5265). Data were analyzed using bivariate and logistic regression analysis to examine factors associated with seeking help from various sources. The outcome variable for this study was seeking help from formal or informal sources. The formal sources were categorized as social service organizations, police, religious leaders, lawyers, or doctors. Informal sources included family members, their husband/partner’s family, neighbors, or traditional leaders. The independent variables were the socio-demographic characteristics, type and severity of violence, women’s justification for IPV and spousal control. Socio-demographic characteristics considered in this study were age of respondent, education level, wealth index, place of residence, and religion. The types of violence were conceptualized as women experience with physical, sexual, and emotional violence.
Results: Findings indicate that the majority of the women did not seek help after experiencing IPV (55.5%). For women who sought help, they primarily accessed informal services (39.7%), though few women also accessed formal services (5.5%). Some women accessed both formal and informal services (41.8%). Findings from bivariate analysis revealed significant differences in help seeking from formal and informal services based on the social-cultural factors of education level, wealth index, place of residence, religion, women’s justification for IPV and spousal control. Further, models from logistic regression indicate that women who experienced physical violence were 1.52 times more likely to seek help from informal services (AOR=1.52, 95% CI=1.34-1.75). In addition women’s justification for IPV significantly decreased the odds of seeking help from informal services by 0.82 times (AOR=0.82, 95% CI=0.69-0.95) and formal services by 0.55 times (AOR=0.55, 95% CI=0.34-0.88).
Implications: Findings indicate that understanding the cultural determinants of help seeking behaviors by social work researchers, policy makers, and practitioners is important, as it would contribute in the development of effective policies and programs for preventing and responding to different types of IPV among diverse populations in Kenya.