Motherhood as an Influence on Help-Seeking Practices Among Women Who Experience Intimate Partner Violence
This thesis explores how motherhood as a status and social identity influences the help-seeking decisions made by women who experience Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) and enter a domestic violence shelter in Arizona. Specifically, this report examines the types, severity, and frequency of violence experienced by women with children and the methods of help-seeking among women without children and women with children. Special attention is paid to women who cite their children as a primary reason for seeking legal intervention and those who cite their children as a primary reason for not seeking legal intervention in their relationships. For the purposes of this study, a survey investigating the types and severity of violence experienced, the help-seeking practices of, and the safety-planning measures taken by IPV survivors was distributed to over 600 women in emergency domestic violence shelters in the Phoenix, Arizona area. Data from both closed- and open-ended questions asked on the survey is analyzed in the context of a review of existing literature on the subject and of current Arizona state-level policies and legislation. Conclusions focus on how the surveyed women's status as mothers related to the specific variables of their victimization and the help-seeking methods they used to achieve safety, and how state-level legislation reacts and acts as a barrier to certain types of help-seeking behaviors.