Who Seeks Counseling for Intimate Partner Violence? The Role of Emotional Distress

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Criminal Justice Review




Intimate partner violence (IPV) is a pervasive problem in the United States affecting every demographic group. Victims of IPV suffer a wide range of negative health issues including depression, anxiety, and loss of self-esteem. However, little is known about help-seeking behaviors among IPV victims. This study utilized a university sample to explore who seeks counseling for exposure to threatening IPV. Results revealed that older students and females were more likely to seek counseling than younger students and males. Students who were exposed to greater levels of IPV and reported greater emotional distress were more likely to seek counseling than those with lower exposure to IPV and distress. Importantly, victimization accompanied by emotional distress was the key to explaining help-seeking help behavior. Programs and policies should focus on outreach to young students and males who have experienced IPV and provide focused services to victims with high levels of emotional distress.