A significant problem with health implications is intimate partner violence (IPV). College women are at greater risk for intimate partner violence, rape and other forms of sexual assault, usually in dating experiences, than women in the general population or in a comparable age group 1, 2. Despite campus prevention and intervention programs, the majority of college women do not report their DV to campus or local authorities and many do not seek needed health care or mental health services 3, 4. Limited research explores help seeking behavior, defined as any behavior that one uses to solve a problem, in college women, especially related to violence 5. The purpose of this project is to determine the significant attitudes and beliefs that are associated with reporting of dating violence in college women. Achieving this goal will guide future research developing and testing effective prevention and intervention strategies to facilitate and increase reporting of dating violence in this population. The proposed study uses an exploratory design, guided by the Theory of Planned Behavior (TPB), to test the relationship of attitudes and beliefs with the help seeking behavior of reporting dating violence and to describe dating violence help seeking behavior of college women.
Specific aims and hypotheses are as follows.
Aim 1) to determine significant attitudes and beliefs associated with the help seeking behavior of reporting DV Hypothesis 1) it is expected that a positive relationship of moderate strength will exist between intention to report and a) positive normative beliefs about help seeking, b) lower perceived barriers to help seeking, c) increased cognitive beliefs about DV.
Aim 2) to identify the significant attitudes and beliefs that differentiate between individuals with intention to report violence and those who do not intend to report violence. Hypothesis 2) individuals who intend to report DV will be more likely to have increased mental health symptoms of somatization, anxiety depression and general psychological distress and lower levels of social support than individuals who are not likely to report violence.
Aim 3) to identify the significant attitudes and beliefs that differentiate between victims with intention to report violence and those who do not intend to report violence. Hypothesis 3) victims who intend to report DV will be more likely to have experienced significantly higher levels of violence, increased mental health symptoms of somatization, anxiety depression and general psychological distress and lower levels of social support than victims who are not likely to report violence;
Aim 4) to describe the formal and informal help seeking behavior of victims of dating violence. A nonprobability purposive sample of 2500 college women will be recruited for an electronic survey. Hypotheses will be tested, using logistic regression. Determining significant attitudes and beliefs that predict DV help seeking is necessary to develop interventions that are clinically meaningful and theoretically driven.
Relevance to Public Health Violence against women is a significant public health and societal issue. Experiencing DV is associated with immediate and long term physical and mental health consequences. Many victims do not disclose their experience or seek healthcare or mental health counseling. When violence is undetected and treatment is not provided, the health consequences increase. Past experiences of violence predict future experiences of violence. Limited research explores dating violence help seeking of college women. The proposed project seeks to enhance primary and secondary prevention by providing theoretically driven and clinically relevant intervention strategies. The proposed study offers a conceptual base to understand the attitudes and beliefs associated with reporting and disclosing intimate partner violence and the influence of friends and peers. The knowledge gained from this theory-driven study will aid in the planning of an intervention program to target specific attitudes and beliefs in order to increase reporting and disclosing intimate partner violence. Health professionals will use the findings to enhance the screening and surveillance procedures for identifying individuals who have experienced intimate partner violence. It is clear from the literature that college students experience IPV and experience health consequences. Therefore, it is important to determine ways to increase identification of victims so that services can be provided.