Methods: Longitudinal interview data were collected from women patients enrolled in one of two Veterans Affairs Medical Centers who had experienced past-year IPV. Participants (n=148) responded to standardized measures at two time points (baseline [time 1] and 6-9 months later [time 2]) that assessed demographics, IPV, health characteristics, and safety-related tradeoffs. The latter was measured using the trade-offs subscale of the Measure of Victim Empowerment-Related to Safety (MOVERS). The subscale includes three questions related to how much the survivor had to give up to become safer and to what extent seeking safety caused new problems for them and for their families. To assess predictors of perceptions of trade-offs, we examined the relationship between potential predictor variables and: a) perception of trade-offs at time 1, and b) reduction in perception of trade-offs from time 1 to time 2.
Results: At time 1, 80.1% of participants (n=169) reported any tradeoffs; at time 2, 69.6% of remaining participants (n=148) reported any trade-offs. Report of tradeoffs at Time 1 was associated with experiences of coercive control, sexual IPV, perception that IPV is will continue, and symptoms of post-traumatic stress; only the latter remained a significant predictor in the logistic regression ( = -1.12, p < .02). Decrease in tradeoffs over time was associated with survivors’ feeling safe, perception that violence was unlikely to continue, and lower level of coercive control; only the latter remained a significant predictor in the logistic regression ( = 1.62, p = .01). Demographic and other health characteristics did not distinguish among those with higher and lower tradeoffs scores.
Conclusion and Implications: Findings indicate a need to examine nuances in particular forms (e.g., sexual) and types (e.g., coercive control) of IPV experience in assessing survivors’ safety needs and costs of seeking safety. When working with IPV survivors, especially those experiencing severe and ongoing abuse, practitioners should help survivors identify the potential consequences of their safety-seeking strategies in order to reduce the magnitude of the tradeoffs they might face.