Gender, women and health

Coping and responding to intimate-partner violence

Who women tell about violence

In all countries, the interviewer was frequently the first person that abused women had ever talked to about their partner’s physical violence. As can be seen in Figure 13, two thirds of women who had been physically abused by their partner in Bangladesh, and about half in Samoa and provincial Thailand, had not told anybody about the violence prior to the interview. In contrast, about 80% of physically abused women in Brazil and Namibia had told someone, usually family or friends. But even in these settings, two out of 10 women had kept silent about their experience.

Relatively few physically abused women in any setting had told staff of formal services or people in positions of authority such as religious or traditional leaders, health personnel, police, counsellors, and staff of women’s nongovernmental organizations about the violence. In all settings, women who had experienced severe physical violence were more likely to talk to someone than those who had experienced moderate physical violence.