Utilization of counseling and supportive services by female victims of domestic abuse

Kris R. Henning, Lisa M. Klesges

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

102 Scopus citations


Increasing attention to the high prevalence of domestic violence (DV) and its impact on women's physical and mental health has resulted in expanded services for abused women. Abused women appear to underutilize the formal counseling services available in many communities, however, and further research is needed to identify factors related to service utilization. In the present study, 1,746 women assaulted by a male intimate partner were identified from a larger pool of women interviewed by Pretrial Services following the arrest of their spouse/partner on domestic abuse charges. The women were selected for the current study if they reported prior physical assaults perpetrated by the same spouse/partner listed in the instant offense. In addition to describing previous physical assaults and psychological abuse by their current spouse/partner, women were also asked whether they had ever sought "formal counseling/supportive services" to address the abuse. Consistent with the prior literature, only a minority of the victims reported prior use of these services (14.9%). Additional analyses indicated that the likelihood of having accessed services varied as a function of victim demographic factors (race, relationship to the offender, income), characteristics of the prior DV (prior injury by partner, forced sexual activity, prior psychological abuse), and whether the victim's children witnessed the fighting. Limitations of the study and implications for service providers and the courts are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)623-636
Number of pages14
JournalViolence and Victims
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 2002


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