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“Breaking the Silence”: Determinants of under-reporting of Intimate-partner Violence (IPV) among Women Survivors in Gweru Urban, Zimbabwe


The study explored causes of under-reporting of intimate-partner violence (IPV) among women survivors in Gweru urban, Zimbabwe. Purposive sampling and stratified random sampling techniques were used to select 13 women survivors (mean age 36), who had not reported first instances of their being violated and who sought psychosocial support from Musasa Project, in Gweru. The sample size was determined by data saturation. The study was a qualitative case study, which had semi-structured interviews being conducted during the 6-month period of data collection. Narrations were used to present data, which was then thematically analysed. Main findings were that the silence about IPV emanated from negative socio-cultural traditions, adverse terms and conditions of intimate relationships, and the women’s individual characteristics. There was a general acceptance of the abuse which was related to several fears: The women feared breaching their patriarchal cultural traditions that condoned violence; Some women also feared exposing their unacceptable intimate relationships, which included secretly co-habiting and being in intimate relationships with married men; There was also fear of further abuse, divorce or incarceration of the abusive partner if he was the sole bread-winner in their relationship. This fear was related to the fear of inability to provide for self and/or for children; The women also feared stigma attached to divorcees and/or to single-parents, whom society labelled as having failed to nurture healthy intimate relationship. The overall conclusion was that the women survivors mainly expressed economic and social challenges, which they reported as their individual characteristics that formed barriers to reporting IPV. The identified determinants acted in complex joint multifaceted occurrences among various reasons for the silence about the experienced IPV.


Determinants, silence, intimate-partner, intimate-partner violence, women survivors

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