Intimate Partner Violence and "Family Harmony": The Tension Between Endurance, Divorce, and Child Wellbeing in Vietnam Open Access

Peters, Natalie (2015)

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Background: Since 1982, the Vietnamese government has enacted a series of laws and policies to advance women's equal rights in the family context, including specific strategies for eliminating violence against women in the home. Yet, few women exposed to IPV seek legal recourse. Although several studies have shown that societal gender norms and cultural emphasis on family harmony hinder women from seeking recourse, there is a gap in the literature on the influence of children on women's recourse-seeking decisions.

Objectives: This study explores the influence of children on women's decision-making in regards to recourse seeking for IPV and to describe how this factor interacts with previously identified decision-making inputs. Currently, no qualitative study has examined the impact of children's wellbeing on this decision-making process.

Methods: The qualitative data from this thesis is drawn from a parent study on attitudes about IPV among women and men in My Hao district, Vietnam. Data from 20 female cognitive interviews were analyzed using qualitative thematic analysis and grounded theory.

Results: The impact of violence on children is a primary factor in women's decisions about recourse seeking for IPV. Whether or not a woman seeks divorce depends on whether she can successfully mitigate violence through personal regulatory behavior. If she cannot, she then weighs factors related to her children's wellbeing to decide if divorce or endurance is the best option. These factors include the frequency and severity of violence, likelihood of obtaining child custody, perceptions on the necessity of both parents, and potential direct negative impacts on children from endurance or divorce.

Conclusions: Vietnamese women exposed to IPV are reluctant to seek divorce for fear of social, physical, and mental negative impacts on children. Although women agree that exposure to violence has a negative impact on children, current legal policies and social norms make divorce potentially more damaging overall to children's wellbeing. Implementing programs and policies to better support single women and to raise awareness of the negative health impacts of violence on children is vital to shift the decision-making balance toward legal recourse-seeking.

Table of Contents

Chapter 1: Introduction. 3

Chapter 2: Comprehensive Literature Review. 6

Chapter 3: Manuscript. 19

Abstract. 20

Introduction. 22

Methods. 24

Results. 35

Discussion. 43

Conclusions and Recommendations. 46

References. 50

Tables and Figures. 56

Chapter 4: Conclusion and Public Health Implications. 60

References. 65

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