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Keywords:

  • intimate partner violence;
  • mental health;
  • vulnerable populations;
  • women's health

Abstract

Objective

To identify characteristics of abused mothers that predict use and difficulty of use of community agencies for intimate partner violence (IPV) and to describe the outcomes of community agency use.

Design and Sample

A prospective study design was used. Three hundred mothers who had experienced physical or sexual IPV and were seeking services for the first time at either a safe shelter for abused women or applying for a protection order.

Measures

Data were collected and analyzed by the research team. Predictors were tested using binary logistic regression and outcomes were tested using a series of Mann-Whitney U nonparametric test of difference on change scores between baseline and 24-month scores.

Results

No individual predictors were statistically significant and/or meaningful for use or difficulty using community agencies. There were significant differences in change scores for severity of violence after women used counseling, the police, or legal services. There were also significant change scores for anxiety after women used legal services and social services.

Conclusions

Abused women need individualized attention to assure that they can access the services they need to recover from IPV. Evidence-based practice is needed for community agencies to treat abused women to facilitate safety and health.