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Women with disabilities’ experiences of intimate partner violence: a qualitative study from Sweden
Umeå University, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Epidemiology and Global Health. Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Centre for Demographic and Ageing Research (CEDAR).
Umeå University, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Epidemiology and Global Health.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-8114-4705
Umeå University, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Epidemiology and Global Health. Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Centre for Demographic and Ageing Research (CEDAR).ORCID iD: 0000-0001-5471-9043
2023 (English)In: BMC Women's Health, E-ISSN 1472-6874, Vol. 23, no 1, article id 381Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Background: Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) is a prevalent form of gender-based violence affecting one in three women globally. It is also a preventable cause of ill-health, disability, and death. Current research suggests that women with disabilities are at a significantly higher risk of experiencing violence throughout their lifetime. They are almost twice as likely to experience violence compared to men with disabilities or men and women without disabilities. Additionally, they experience higher rates of all types of violence. This increased vulnerability may be due to factors related to disability such as dependence on others for support, mistrust, and social and physical isolation. Although there is existing research on IPV against women in general, there is limited knowledge on IPV against women with disabilities. To address this gap in knowledge, this study aimed to explore women with disabilities’ perceptions and experiences of being victims/survivors of IPV in Sweden.

Methods: This was a qualitative study conducted through in-depth interviews with eleven women with disabilities. The participants were aged eighteen years upwards. The collected data was analyzed using reflexive thematic analysis with a constructivist epistemological standpoint.

Results: We developed four themes. Theme one: “multiple abuse by multiple abusers, over time,” describes the participants’ experiences of various types of violence from different perpetrators for prolonged periods. Theme two: “psychological abuse—harmful, but neglected and difficult to prove,” explains how women with disabilities’ perceive psychological abuse as harmful, but not given the same level of seriousness as physical violence. It also expresses the difficulties they encountered in providing tangible evidence to prove instances of psychological abuse. Theme three: “abuse does not end with separation,” highlights how abuse can continue beyond separation/divorce. Theme four: “surviving abusive relationships” describes the different and evolving ways the participants used to navigate their abusive relationships.

Conclusions: Women with disabilities face all forms of abuse. They find it challenging to prove psychological abuse, and the system is inadequate in addressing its harm. The abuse also continues after separation or divorce. The support system should consider the needs of women with disabilities who experience violence, both during and after the abusive relationship. Service providers should be better equipped to detect and handle all types of IPV, especially psychological abuse.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
BioMed Central (BMC), 2023. Vol. 23, no 1, article id 381
Keywords [en]
In-depth interviews, Intimate partner violence, Reflexive thematic analysis, Women with disabilities
National Category
Public Health, Global Health, Social Medicine and Epidemiology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-212466DOI: 10.1186/s12905-023-02524-8PubMedID: 37474929Scopus ID: 2-s2.0-85165318152OAI: oai:DiVA.org:umu-212466DiVA, id: diva2:1785774
Funder
Forte, Swedish Research Council for Health, Working Life and Welfare, STYB-2019/0005Available from: 2023-08-04 Created: 2023-08-04 Last updated: 2023-08-28Bibliographically approved

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Goicolea, IsabelNamatovu, Fredinah

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