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Victim Help Seeking: Differences Between Intimate Terrorism and Situational Couple Violence


*Janel M. Leone is Assistant Professor in the Department of Child and Family Studies at Syracuse University, 426 Ostrom, Syracuse, NY 13244 (

Michael P. Johnson is Professor Emeritus of Sociology, Women’s Studies, and African and African American Studies at The Pennsylvania State University, 1155 Oneida Street, State College, PA 16801 (

Catherine L. Cohan is a Research Scientist at The Pennsylvania State University, Population Research Institute, 601 Oswald Tower, University Park, PA 16802 (


Abstract: Research indicates that two major forms of partner violence exist, intimate terrorism (IT) and situational couple violence (SCV). The current study (N= 389) used a subgroup of women who responded to the Chicago Women’s Health Risk Study to examine whether type of violence experienced is differentially related to formal (e.g., police, medical agencies, counseling) and informal (e.g., family, friends/neighbors) help seeking. IT victims were more likely to seek each type of formal help but were equally or less likely to seek informal help. Findings can inform both family violence research and the development and implementation of social service programs.