The Use of Help Seeking and Coping Strategies Among Bosnian Women in Domestic Violence Shelters

Document Type


Publication Date


Publication Title

Journal of Gender-Based Violence




Victims/survivors of domestic violence face a variety of decisions in determining whether and from whom to seek help. Although western literature on help-seeking is extensive, few studies have examined help-seeking behaviours of victims/survivors in post-war areas. The current study investigates use of help-seeking behaviours and coping mechanisms among women receiving services from domestic violence shelters in Bosnia and Herzegovina after the war. A total of 107 women across eight shelters completed pencil and paper surveys that explored formal and informal help-seeking behaviours and coping mechanisms employed to prevent and/or reduce victimisation. Help-seeking and coping strategies were organised into one of four categories based upon similar themes, including communication strategies, avoidance strategies, protection and resistance strategies, and safety planning strategies. Additionally, respondents were asked to assess what impact (that is, made the situation better, worse, or had no impact) utilised behaviours had. Communication and avoidance strategies were the most commonly reported behaviours. Safety planning techniques were less frequently reported, although victims/survivors perceived these as making their situation better, while trying to end the relationship or avoiding the abuser made the situation worse. These findings are similar to research conducted among victims/survivors residing in countries not directly affected by armed conflict. Interpretation of results, limitations, implications and future research are discussed.


This is a post-peer-review, pre-copy edited version of an article published in Journal of Gender-Based Violence. The definitive publisher-authenticated version:

Muftić, Lisa R., Susan Hoppe, and Jonathan A. Grubb. "The use of help seeking and coping strategies among Bosnian women in domestic violence shelters." Journal of gender-based violence 3, no. 2 (2019): 199-214.

Is available online at: https://www.ingentaconnect.com/content/tpp/jgbv/2019/00000003/00000002/art00005.