Influence of type of violence on women’s help-seeking behaviour: Evidence from 10 countries in sub-Saharan Africa

Castro AYEBENG, Kwamena Sekyi DICKSON, Edward Kwabena AMEYAW, Kenneth Setorwu ADDE, Jones Arkoh PAINTSIL, Sanni YAYA*, Deidre PRETORIUS (Editor)

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)peer-review


Intimate partner violence (IPV) is a major public health concern that mostly impacts women’s health and social well-being. This study explored how the various types of IPV (physical, sexual, and emotional) including women’s experience of childhood violence influence their help-seeking behavior in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA).

We analyzed data from the most recent Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS), carried out between 2018 and 2021. The outcome variable was help-seeking behavior. Descriptive and inferential analyses were carried out. The descriptive analysis looked at the bivariate analysis between the country and outcome variables. Using a binary logistic regression model, a multivariate analysis was utilized to determine the association between the outcome variable and the explanatory variables. Binary logistic regression modelling was used based on the dichotomous nature of the outcome variable. The results were sample-weighted to account for any under- or over-sampling in the sample.

The proportion of women who sought help for intimate partner violence was 36.1 percent. This ranged from 19.2 percent in Mali to 49.6 percent in Rwanda. Women who experienced violence in childhood (OR = 0.75, CI = 0.69, 0.82) have a lower likelihood of seeking help compared to those who did not experience violence in their childhood. Women who had experienced emotional violence (OR = 1.94, CI = 1.80, 2.08), and physical violence (OR = 1.37, CI = 1.26, 1.48) have a higher likelihood of seeking help compared to those who have not. Women with secondary educational levels (aOR = 1.13, CI = = 1.02, 1.24) have a higher likelihood of seeking help compared to those with no education. Cohabiting women have a higher likelihood (aOR = 1.22, CI = 1.10, 1.35) of seeking help compared to married women.

The study highlights the importance of early identification of IPV and fit-for-purpose interventions to demystify IPV normalization to enhance women’s willingness to seek help. The study’s findings suggest that education is crucial for increasing women’s awareness of the legalities surrounding IPV and available structures and institutions for seeking help.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0297308
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number3
Early online date8 Mar 2024
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2024 Ayebeng et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.


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