Beaten into Submissiveness? An Investigation into the Protective Strategies used by Survivors of Domestic Abuse

Laura Irving, Ben Chi-pun Liu

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The aim of the study was to identify the prevalence and perceived helpfulness of a variety of protective strategies that were used by female survivors of domestic abuse and to explore factors that may have influenced strategy usage. Forty participants were recruited from a voluntary sector domestic abuse service, commissioned by an outer London local authority in the UK. The measurement tools used were the Intimate Partner Violence Strategies Index and the CAADA Domestic Abuse, Stalking and ‘Honour’-Based Violence (DASH) Risk Assessment Checklist. The average age was 33 (SD=7.9, range: 20-57), half reported to be of Asian ethnicity, 37.5% White and 12.5% Black or Mixed ethnicity. The average DASH score was 9.8 (SD=13.2, range: 0-18) and an average of 18 (SD=6.7, range: 1-29) protective strategies were utilised by each participant. All of the most commonly used strategies were from the Placating category. Though Safety Planning strategies were rated as the most helpful by all participants, Placating strategies were also rated as helpful by two-thirds of participants. Stepwise multiple regression showed that Placating was the only significant predictor of DASH score (β=0.375, p<0.05) and accounted for 14% of the variance of DASH score. Findings showed that women utilized a diverse range of protective strategies with placating strategies being most intensely used and rated as helpful. However, placating strategy usage could be a risk factor as opposed to a protective factor. This study has also demonstrated that greater placating strategies were used by White than South Asian women, and women who were employed used more formal strategies. This research has extended the knowledge base of protective strategies that professionals can draw from to underpin decisions and interventions when working with domestic abuse survivors.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-25
Number of pages25
JournalJournal of Interpersonal Violence
Early online date14 Dec 2016
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 14 Dec 2016


  • battered women
  • domestic violence
  • assessment
  • intervention/treatment


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