Women in South Asia face the highest lifetime prevalence of intimate partner violence in the world, which is just one form of violence against women (VAW). In India, few women seek help after experiencing violence, particularly from formal resources, such as physicians or the police. While many studies have investigated the impact of survivor characteristics and patterns of violence on help-seeking behaviors, there is scant research on support service characteristics and their impact on help-seeking. The introduction of a novel crisis helpline in Gujarat, India provided an opportunity to better understand how successful help-seeking can be driven by the perceived and experienced characteristics of the helpline. We conducted in-depth interviews with helpline users to identify factors and pathways that promoted or discouraged help-seeking in general, help-seeking from a formal source, and help-seeking from this particular helpline. We analyzed 32 interviews of women who used the helpline. Participants were from eight districts across the state, representing a diverse range of sociodemographic backgrounds. After conducting a thematic analysis, we found that action-oriented service, timeliness, and women-focused staff influenced (positively and negatively) participants' feelings of safety, empowerment, and trust in the helpline, which ultimately impacted their decision to seek help from the helpline or even to seek help at all. This study illuminates how service characteristics, in and of themselves, can influence the likelihood that survivors will seek help, emphasizing the need for survivors to have a voice in the growth and refinement of VAW support services. Consequently, these areas must be a focus of future research and initiatives to improve help-seeking by VAW survivors.
View details for DOI 10.1177/0886260520970306
View details for PubMedID 33150827