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Of households with women aged 15—49 years, women completed the individual interview individual response rate The rest of the women were unavailable for interview during three consequent visits 5. Of interviewed women, women ever had an intimate partner. Psychometric analysis performed on the violence questions showed the following Cronbach's alpha coefficients: 0. This demonstrated that internal consistency of these measures was comparable to those found in other sites in the WHO study.

Of the ever-partnered women, Physical violence was experienced by Women who reported to have ever experienced sexual violence almost always also reported physical violence: 5. Of those who experienced physical partner violence, one of every three women reported severe acts of violence Of the women who reported severe physical violence, All women who ever experienced physical violence were asked to whom they had turned for help.

The women who reported sexual violence only 0. More than three quarters Among women who had ever experienced severe physical violence, Abused women most frequently sought help from police Among the severely abused women, the percentages were Severely abused women more often sought help from almost all official institutions compared to those who experienced moderate violence.

Help-seeking behaviour of physically abused women, related to the severity of experienced violence. Despite the fact that few women sought help, the data showed that roughly three of four women were satisfied with the help from health care services and legal advice centres Table 2 , irrespective of the severity of the violence.

Less than half were satisfied with the help from social work centres. Women were least satisfied with the help of the police Women who sought help from any of the formal institutions The reasons given by the women were summarized in four main categories: a reasons related to severity of violence, b reasons related to the impact on children, c encouragement by family members and d other reasons as presented in Box 1.

Reasons for seeking help of health care professionals in brackets are the number of times a certain reason was mentioned. As mentioned earlier, a large proportion These women were asked to state reasons why they did not seek help, and the categories of their answers are presented in Box 2. This was either because the violence was perceived not to be serious or the relationship had ended.

Less often mentioned reasons were c lack of trust in institutions, d reasons related to barriers to ask for help, e self-blame or justification of violence and f hope that the partner will change. Reasons for not seeking help in brackets are the number of times a certain reason was mentioned. Twenty-nine per cent of the women reported that they had never told anyone about the abuse before they were interviewed in this study.

Among women who experienced severe physical violence, the proportion of women who had not disclosed violence was less This indicates that when violence is severe, women are more likely to tell someone. Informal sources such as friends The family members were mother mentioned by All informal sources were more frequently mentioned by women who experienced severe violence compared to women who reported moderate violence.

The aim of this study was to identify patterns of and reasons for help seeking by women who had experienced IPV in Belgrade, Serbia. We explored whether or not the women who did seek help from official institutions were satisfied with the help received. The results also show that women who experienced more severe violence were more likely to ask for help. Every 10th abused woman visited health care professionals for help, and among these, three of four are satisfied with the help they received. Although slightly more women mentioned the police as a source of help, only one of four women was satisfied with the support they received.

However, in these countries, the incidence of violence i. A relatively high percentage of abused women who sought help at health care services in Belgrade indicated that they were satisfied with the services. This can be interpreted that health care services are credible and trusted sources of help. They present a potentially valuable entry point to identify abused women and to respond to violence by providing appropriate support.

This is corroborated by the findings from a qualitative study conducted in the same environment and population that showed that health professionals in Belgrade largely expressed an empathetic and supportive attitude towards abused women. Though less commonly used, a comparably high level of satisfaction was seen with legal advice centres. While women seek help of health care professionals mainly related to their health problems, help from the legal advice centres is usually sought when women want to leave the violent relationship.

In addition, women differ in their capacities, willingness and timing to leave an abusive partner and relationship, which is explained by the stages of change theory. Health care professionals will see women at all stages of the process of dealing with partner abuse. Nevertheless, it is an opportunity to inform them about available sources for further help, but without judging or insisting on certain actions, which may cause more harm than good.

The results on the reasons for seeking help suggest that the severity of violence and the impact of the violence on children are the most important triggers for women to seek help after experiencing IPV. This is consistent with the findings coming from population-based studies conducted in New Zealand and Bangladesh.

"In search of possibilities : Informal responding to domestic violence" by Marilyn Palmer

We did not investigate what they had actually expected of these services and why they were satisfied or not with the received help. The strength of our study is that the results are coming from a well-organized, cross-sectional survey conducted in the general population using a validated and well-tested methodology.

It allows generalizability of findings on the prevalence and patterns of IPV in Belgrade and thus allows us to see how many cases do not come to the attention of health services and other institutions. These findings call for action towards a structured and better articulated response from health care professionals. We also recommend an active role of health care institutions in identifying abused women.

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