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Abstract

The pervasive, personal crisis of intimate partner violence (IPV) demands the full panoply of community and governmental information resources. IPV survivors must make effective use of those varied information resources but the more fully those resources are used, the more complex their information applications become. This study triangulates two populations and two data-gathering techniques encompassing IPV survivor interactions with both formal and informal information systems. The first segment analyzed the information issues of IPV survivors in 1,793 postings from an active bulletin board (BB) community. The second segment analyzed in-depth interviews with 57 individuals (24 shelter staff, 14 police officers, and 19 IPV survivors) in ten contrasting cities. In addition to a clearly defined matrix of information needs that are reported elsewhere, an unexpected pattern emerged which has been tentatively labeled as the “progressive information engagement model.” This four-stage model provides significant indicators of the different qualities that determine successful information interactions at different stages in survivors' movement towards safer living. Each stage is delineated by three factors: the primary information need, the affective influences on efforts to meet that need, and the information myths that are cognitive barriers to successful information utilization. This paper explicates the stages and their characteristics.