Journal of Family Violence

, Volume 35, Issue 1, pp 15–28 | Cite as

Help Seeking Experiences of Survivors of Intimate Partner Violence in Canada: the Role of Gender, Violence Severity, and Social Belonging

  • Betty Jo BarrettEmail author
  • Amy Peirone
  • Chi Ho Cheung
Original Article


Using data from the 2009 Canadian General Social Survey-Victimization main file, this study assessed the association between intimate partner violence (IPV) victims’ socio-demographic characteristics, violence characteristics, sense of social belonging, and help seeking behaviors. In a nationally representative study, we conducted hierarchical binary logistic regression to evaluate the relationship between IPV victims’ (n = 900; 385 males and 515 females) sense of social belonging and their engagement with seeking help from informal (family members, friends/neighbors, co-workers) and formal (counsellor/psychologist, doctor/nurse, lawyer, police) sources of support after controlling for victim socio-demographic characteristics and severity of violence experienced. We also sought to assess whether male and female victims of IPV differed in their solicitation of help from both informal sources and formal service providers. As hypothesized, males were significantly less likely than females to seek help from all sources. In partial support of our hypotheses, social belonging was significantly associated with an increased probability of seeking support from friends or neighbors in the regression analysis; however it was not associated with seeking help from any other source. Implications suggest that facilitating strategies for bringing together community members in every day contexts (not solely in the aftermath of violence) may be salient to enhancing survivors’ sense of belonging and increasing the likelihood that they will solicit help if needed. Findings also suggest the need for further gender based analysis of the help seeking experiences of male and female survivors to address potential gender specific barriers to help seeking.


Domestic violence Spousal violence Help-seeking Social belonging 



This work was supported with funding from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council Insight Development Grant Program under Grant # 430-2013-000465 and the University of Windsor Tri-Success Grant Program under Grant # 812162. Data for this project was accessed by the researchers through the Statistics Canada Research Data Centre program. The views and opinions expressed herein are solely those of the researchers and do not necessarily reflect those of Statistics Canada.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Betty Jo Barrett
    • 1
    Email author
  • Amy Peirone
    • 2
  • Chi Ho Cheung
    • 3
  1. 1.Women’s and Gender Studies ProgramUniversity of WindsorWindsorCanada
  2. 2.Sociology, Anthropology, and CriminologyUniversity of WindsorWindsorCanada
  3. 3.Department of Mathematics and StatisticsUniversity of WindsorWindsorCanada

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