Women's Empowerment and Autonomy: Do They Promote Help Seeking for Spousal Violence in India? Findings from a National Survey
Kathleen Rowan, University of Minnesota
Intimate partner violence (IPV), defined here as physical or sexual violence, is a problem for women in all countries. Despite its adverse effects, most women who experience partner violence do not seek help. Using nationally representative data from India, this study examined the individual, relationship, household and state-level predictors of help seeking for spousal violence, with a focus on measures of empowerment and autonomy. Autonomous decision-making and freedom of movement were associated with help seeking; education, employment, and wealth were not. Women whose husbands had controlling behaviors were more likely to seek help, which suggests that the severity of the circumstances prompts help-seeking. Few household or individual socio-demographic characteristics were associated with help seeking. State levels of tolerance towards wife-beating were positively associated with help seeking. Findings demonstrate the need for interventions to focus on the relationship context in which violence occurs and the social contexts that justify abuse.