Help-seeking behaviors and practices among Fijian women who experience domestic violence: An exploration of the role of religiosity as a coping strategy

Jenny Tonsing, Ravinder Barn

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Domestic violence continues to be a persistent social problem, tragically affecting large numbers of women and children. Many religious women look to their faith community for guidance in the aftermath of domestic violence. This article focuses on help-seeking behaviors and practices among Fijian women. Help-seeking behaviors and practices of abused women in Fiji have hitherto received little or no attention and this study seeks to address this lacuna in knowledge and understanding. A qualitative method was employed in the form of in-depth one-on-one interviews with 18 abused women to explore the nature of women’s help-seeking in response to domestic violence. Women in abusive relationships utilized a variety of coping strategies to deal with and heal from the abuse. The findings in this study reveal that in their attempt to survive and heal from experiences of abuse, women turn to their faith in their search for solace, support, and strength. For the women in this study, their faith in God is integral to their healing. This article offers an analysis of how religious involvement also provides women with possibilities of enhanced social and cultural capital that can help to reduce social isolation and enhance support networks. Implications for practice are discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-12
Number of pages12
JournalInternational Social Work
Early online date6 Apr 2020
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 6 Apr 2020


  • Coping strategies, domestic violence, gender, help-seeking, religion

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