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Title: Help-seeking by abused women in South Africa
Author: Rasool , Shahana
ISNI:       0000 0003 8397 1269
Awarding Body: Oxford University
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2012
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Abused women are reluctant to seek help despite the existence of enabling legislation. An exploratory qualitative study was conducted with 17 abused women in shelters, to understand the personal, socio-cultural, structural and institutional factors that influenced help-seeking. Feminist standpoint theories were influential in the research design, methodology and analysis of this study because it provided participants with the power to define their experiences from wi thin their own context. Four key themes that deterred help-seeking emerged. First, the predominance of patriarchy at the structural level emerged as an important theme that was enacted through men controlling women's freedom of speech, association and movement. Second, at the socio-culturallevel, discourses of love and the best interests of the child played a role in promoting the stability of the family above women's safety. Third, women sought help from informal networks of support, which sent them back to abusive relationships because of their acquiescence with patriarchy and socio-cultural constructions that normalised and privatised abuse. As a consequence of the inaction of informal networks, the psychosocial or personal consequences of abuse were exacerbated and women did not consider utilising formal services. This was compounded by a lack of financial resources. Fourth, at the institutional level, when abused women presented at health settings for medical concerns, they remained undetected or who were sent back to the abusive relationship. Rarely did medical services refer women to social services. Women obtained referrals to shelters from other women and community services many years after first experiencing abuse. Abused women were positive about the role shelters played in their empowerment. VI ••• im •••••• ~~~~~~~--------------- I A significant insight of this study is the way in which women attained empowerment and sought help by reconstructing the socio-cultural discourses that contributed to their oppression into the tools for agency. Women utilised legitimated socio-cultural discourses to justify seeking help, since challenging the status quo directly was too costly. Policy and practice need to target the personal, socio-cultural, institutional and structural impediments to seeking assistance, in order to prevent further violence, improve mental health outcomes and facilitate formal help-seeking.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available