"Why doesn't she seek help for partner abuse?" An exploratory study with South Asian immigrant women
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This study explores why South Asian immigrant women with experiences of partner abuse delay seeking help from professionals. Three focus groups were conducted in Hindi language with South Asian immigrant women in Toronto. Twenty-two women participated with a mean age of 46 years (range 29-68 years). Thematic analysis was conducted on the transcribed data using constant comparison techniques within and across the groups. We found that three major themes emerged from the discussions: reasons for delayed help-seeking, turning points and talking to professionals. Women expressed delaying help-seeking to the point when "Pani sar se guzar jata he" (water crosses over your head). Their dominant reasons for delayed help-seeking were social stigma, rigid gender roles, marriage obligations, expected silence, loss of social support after migration and limited knowledge about available resources and myths about partner abuse. Women usually turned for help only after experiencing pronounced mental and physical health problems. The findings are interpreted in light of participants' immigration context and the socio-cultural norms of patriarchy, collectivism and familism. Prevention approaches to address partner abuse and delayed help-seeking among South Asian immigrant women should include tailored community education, social services to reduce vulnerability, and cultural competency of professionals. Further research and program evaluation is needed to advance the field.
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