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Structural and Institutional Barriers to Help-Seeking among Female Victims of Intimate Partner Violence in Ghana

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The literature shows that the majority of Ghanaian women who experience IPV do not seek help, but there is limited understanding of the barriers to their help-seeking behaviours from either an individual or an institutional perspective.


This study used qualitative data from 30 women in three of Ghana’s 16 administrative regions (Ashanti, Upper East, and Greater Accra) to explore IPV victims’ experiences of help-seeking. Fifteen staff at the Domestic Violence and Victim Support Unit (DOVVSU) in the three selected regions were also interviewed to examine barriers to help-seeking from an institutional perspective.


Results of the thematic analysis showed lack of trust in formal support channels, lack of knowledge about DOVVSU, and fear of partner arrest were common barriers identified by victims. From an institutional perspective, barriers ranged from inadequate resources, including administrative and logistical support, to inadequately trained personnel, visibility and distance to DOVVSU offices, lack of privacy at DOVVSU offices, and financial constraints.


The findings suggest the need for future interventions to take into account both individual and institutional factors associated with victims’ help-seeking decisions. The development of a multifaceted solution responsive to the needs of IPV victims should involve addressing the various barriers identified in this study.

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Rohn, E., Tenkorang, E.Y. Structural and Institutional Barriers to Help-Seeking among Female Victims of Intimate Partner Violence in Ghana. J Fam Viol 38, 815–827 (2023).

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