Understanding Why Victims of Domestic Violence

Broad area of interest:

Domestic violence is now recognised in literature as a serious social issue that impacts the rights of victims who are trapped in relationships that are abusive (Groves & Thomas, 2013). Due to the seriousness of this issue, laws have been evolved to provide recourse to victims of domestic violence; the statutory definition of domestic is included in the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012; the Serious Crime Act 2015 defines domestic violence as the coercive or controlling behavior against an intimate partner and provides a range of remedies to the victims of abuse in intimate relationships. Despite these provisions in the law that are meant to provide solutions to the victims of domestic law, literature indicates that there are instances of victims of domestic violence choosing to stay with their abusive partners instead of leaving such relationship and accessing the legal remedies against such abusive behaviour of their partners. This creates the context for this research because it is a question of interest as to why victims of domestic violence would choose to stay in an abusive relationship when they have access to laws and social services which can provide them with some solutions in such situation.

Literature points at a range of factors that may be responsible for the decision of the victims of domestic violence to stay with the perpetrator of the abuse. Such factors, may be social, economic, religious in nature; or victims of the abuse may be impacted by their own background of abuse. Social and economic factors related to domestic violence have been subject to much research in the area of domestic violence (Thiara & Gill, 2009; Gill, 2014). Some victims may make the decision to stay back in the abusive relationship because their personal or material circumstances may not allow them to leave their partners; this is particularly true for immigrant women (Burmana & Chantler, 2005; Colucci, et al., 2013), or women who belong to poor families (Anitha, 2008); or women who do not have the educational qualifications or access to financial independence (Anitha, 2008). Therefore, a preliminary literature review indicates that there may be a number of reasons why victims of domestic violence may choose to remain in abusive relationships. The aim of this study is to explore the literature on this field to uncover these different reasons.


Particular research question/s:

What are the reasons that impact the choices made by victims of domestic abuse to stay on with their partners?

Do economic factors play a role in influencing the decision of the victims of domestic abuse to stay on with their partners?

Do social factors play a role in influencing the decision of the victims of domestic abuse to stay on with their partners?

Possible research methodology:

The aim of this research is to explore the literature in the field of domestic violence in order to identify the reasons why victims of domestic violence choose to stay in abusive relationships. The data for this research will be collected through a literature review. This would allow the researcher to collect the data in a systematic manner and to ensure that all relevant scientific literature is referred to for the collection of the data. This would also allow the researcher to collect data from empirical studies that are reported in academic and peer reviewed journals. Although the researcher is not conducting a primary research, a systematic literature review will be appropriate for collecting data because the researcher will be considering empirical research studies that present their findings based on primary research.

A systematic review is conducted by the researcher to “collate all empirical evidence that fits pre-specified eligibility criteria in order to answer a specific research question” (Green, et al., 2011, p. 6). As the systematic review is undertaken to locate and collate empirical evidence, this method is useful for collected all available literature on the given subject matter and aimed at answering specific research questions. Therefore, the researcher will be conducting a systematic review for the purpose of identification, selection, appraisal and synthesis high quality literature on domestic violence and victim choices in remaining with the perpetrator of the abuse (Bettany-Saltikov, 2012). Another important use of the systematic literature review will be that it will also lead to the identification of grey areas, such as PhD theses or conference papers; these are important to providing more information on the subject matter and may also report empirical data (Bettany-Saltikov, 2012).

Bettany-Saltikov (2012) suggests using the PEO (Population, exposure, outcomes) method for directing a systematic literature review related to qualitative research questions. This method allows the researcher to focus the review by identifying the exclusion and inclusion criteria for the research on the databases. In this case, the population is women (we are excluding male victims); the exposure is domestic violence. The outcomes are social, cultural, religious, economic, education related factors.

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Ethical and Access issues:

In a literature review, one of the possible ethical issues relates to bias where the researcher may only select those literature which conforms to preconceived beliefs or ideas of the researcher (Bettany-Saltikov, 2012). While this may be a concern in a literature review, the level of bias is limited in a systematic literature review because the researcher has to first define the explicit and systematic methods of literature review and then stick to these methods. The researcher has to define the inclusion and exclusion criteria at the beginning phase of the research and then select all the studies that conform to the criteria. This will therefore eliminate the possibility of bias in the literature review.


Anitha, S. (2008). 6 CrossRef citations 0 Altmetric RESEARCH ARTICLES Neither safety nor justice: the UK government response to domestic violence against immigrant women.

Journal of Social Welfare and Family Law, 30(3), 189-202.

Bettany-Saltikov, J. (2012). How To Do A Systematic Literature Review In Nursing: A Step-By-Step Guide: A Step by Step Guide. London : Mc Graw and Hill.

Burmana, E., & Chantler, K. (2005). Domestic violence and minoritisation: Legal and policy barriers facing minoritized women leaving violent relationships. International Journal of Law and Psychiatry , 28, 59–74.

Colucci, E., O'Connor, M., Field, K., Baroni, A., Pryor, R., & Minas, H. (2013). Nature of domestic/family violence and barriers to using services among indian immigrant women. International Journal of Intercultural Research, 3(2).

Gill, A. K. (2014). Introduction: 'Honour' and 'Honour based violence': Challenging common assumptions. In A. K. Gill, C. Strange, & K. Roberts (Eds.), 'Honour' Killing and Violence: Theory, Policy and Practice . Basingstoke: Springer.

Green, S., Higgins, J., Alderson, P., Clarke, M., Mulrow, C., & Oxman, A. (2011). Introduction. In J. P. Higgins, & S. Green (Eds.), Cochrane Handbook for Systematic Reviews of Interventions . London: John Wiley and Sons.

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