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  • Author or Editor: Marie-Josèphe Saurel-Cubizolles x
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Looking for support has a central role in the process of escaping violence. This study aims to investigate which sources of help women victims of intimate partner violence (IPV) contacted before arriving at an anti-violence centre (AVC), and to analyse the links with the women’s characteristics, their history of violence and the involvement of children. A cross-sectional study was conducted among 151 women arriving at five AVCs in Italy, where they filled in a self-administered questionnaire. Women reported high levels of violence; children were closely involved. Only two women reported no previous contact with sources of help; 33.1 per cent of the sample contacted four or more sources. Non-Italian women were more likely to contact four or more sources of help; having children was linked to more contacts with social workers; more severe violence was linked to more contacts with law enforcement agents. When children were involved in violence, the odds ratio for contacting four or more sources of help increased significantly, also after controlling for women’s nationality (adjusted odds ratio 9.47, p<0.05). This study provides evidence of the active behaviour of victims of violence and of the role played by children’s involvement in women’s help-seeking behaviour.

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This study explores how women’s fear is related to violence by a partner during the COVID-19 lockdown in Italy. Data come from a sample of 238 women, attending five anti-violence centres in June–September 2020, 44 per cent were cohabiting and 56 per cent not cohabiting with the perpetrator. A questionnaire administered by the advocates allowed us to collect information about several types of violence and their evolution during the lockdown, the feeling of fear, the impossibility of going out alone and help-seeking strategies.

Most of these women lived with the fear of their aggressor, more often if they cohabited with him, 76 per cent instead of 57 per cent if not. Despite this high prevalence, the main determinants of not going out alone or help-seeking were the intensity of violence and its increase during the lockdown more than the women’s fear, even if the cohabitation status is considered.

Fear strongly impairs the quality of daily life. In the context of this pandemic, it was an addition to the various damages exerted by the violence, coupled for some women with difficult social conditions. Professionals working with these women should consider fear but keep in mind that the factor to suppress is the violence.

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