Violence-related coping, help seeking and health care-based intervention preferences among perinatal women in Mumbai, India

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Article (peer-reviewed)

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Domestic violence is a significant public health issue. India is uniquely affected with an estimated 1 in 3 women facing abuse at the hands of a partner. The current mixed-methods study describes violence-related coping and help-seeking, and preferences for health care-based intervention, among perinatal women residing in low-income communities in Mumbai, India. In-depth interviews were conducted with women who had recently given birth and self-reported recent violence from husbands (n = 32), followed by survey data collection (n = 1,038) from mothers seeking immunization for their infants ages 6 months or younger at 3 large urban health centers in Mumbai, India. Participants described fears and other barriers to abuse disclosure, and there was a low level of awareness of formal support services related to violence. Qualitative and quantitative findings indicated that formal help-seeking is uncommon and that informal help sources are most frequently sought. Quantitative results revealed that, while few ( < 5%) women had been screened for violence in the health care setting, most (67%) would be willing to disclose abuse if asked. When presented with a list of possible clinic-based violence support interventions, participants endorsed crisis counseling and safety planning as most helpful (90.9%). Findings provide direction for violence-related intervention services for perinatal women. A multipronged approach that includes strengthening the informal support system, for example, neighbors and family members, as well as facilitating access to formal services building on the health care system, warrants exploration in this context.