Informal social support is vital in recovering from gender violence

Scientific evidence platform Scientific evidence Informal social support is vital in recovering from gender violence
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Bibliographic references:

  • García Montes, R., Corral Liria, I., Jimenez Fernandez, R., Rodriguez Vázquez, R., Becerro de Bengoa Vallejo, R., & Losa Iglesias, M. (2021). Personal Tools and Psychosocial Resources of Resilient Gender-Based Violence Women. International journal of environmental research and public health, 18(16), 8306. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18168306  
  • Goodkind, J. R., Gillum, T. L., Bybee, D. I., & Sullivan, C. M. (2003). The Impact of Family and Friends’ Reactions on the Well-Being of Women With Abusive Partners. Violence Against Women, 9(3), 347–373. https://doi.org/10.1177/1077801202250083  
  • Goodman, L. A., & Smyth, K. F. (2011). A call for a social network-oriented approach to services for survivors of intimate partner violence. Psychology of Violence, 1(2), 79–92. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0022977  
  • Goodman, L. A., Banyard, V., Woulfe, J., Ash, S., & Mattern, G. (2016). Bringing a Network-Oriented Approach to Domestic Violence Services: A Focus Group Exploration of Promising Practices. Violence Against Women, 22(1), 64–89. https://doi.org/10.1177/1077801215599080  
  • Kim, M. E. (2021). Shifting the Lens: An Implementation Study of a Community-Based and Social Network Intervention to Gender-Based Violence. Violence Against Women, 27(2), 222–254. https://doi.org/10.1177/1077801219889176
  • McKenzie, M., Hegarty, K. L., Palmer, V. J., & Tarzia, L. (2022). “Walking on Eggshells:” A Qualitative Study of How Friends of Young Women Experiencing Intimate Partner Violence Perceive Their Role. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 37(9–10), NP7502–NP7527. https://doi.org/10.1177/0886260520969238  
  • Melgar Alcantud, P., Campdepadrós-Cullell, R., Fuentes-Pumarola, C., & Mut-Montalvà, E. (2021). ‘I think I will need help‘: A systematic review of who facilitates the recovery from gender-based violence and how they do so. Health expectations : an international journal of public participation in health care and health policy, 24(1), 1–7. https://doi.org/10.1111/hex.13157  
  • Stylianou, A. M., Counselman-Carpenter, E., & Redcay, A. (2021). “My Sister Is the One That Made Me Stay Above Water”: How Social Supports Are Maintained and Strained When Survivors of Intimate Partner Violence Reside in Emergency Shelter Programs. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 36(13–14), 6005–6028. https://doi.org/10.1177/0886260518816320 
  • Zapor, H., Wolford-Clevenger, C., & Johnson, D. M. (2018). The Association Between Social Support and Stages of Change in Survivors of Intimate Partner Violence. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 33(7), 1051–1070. https://doi.org/10.1177/0886260515614282 

There is evidence of the importance of women’s informal social support (friendship, family, community members etc.) in their recovery processes and overcoming gender violence. A systematic review of the scientific literature on who facilitates recovery from gender-based violence and how, by Melgar Alcantud et al. (2021), confirms that recovery from gender-based violence cannot occur individually. There is a need to find supports and overcome the isolation. This importance is due to the fact that, on the one hand, social support contributes to the physical security and well-being of survivors (Goodman & Smith, 2011; Goodman et al, 2016; Zapor et al., 2018), mitigating the harmful impact of abuse on mental health. In addition, on the other hand, informal social support is the preference for survivors, since it is the first resource to which they turn (Melgar Alcantud et al., 2021).

Therefore, it is noteworty the influence and central role of women’s social network  as a support system  (García Montes et al., 2021; Kim, 2021; Stylianou et al., 2021). Several studies show that support networks can be useful in reducing the negative impact of violence on battered women (Kim, 2021). In addition, others highlight that those with family and friends who provide them with psychological and emotional resources are in better health than those with fewer support networks (Goodkind et al., 2003).

One of the studies conducted with young victims of gender-based violence reveals the critical role of friendships as the main source of support and how significant their reactions are when victims turn for help (McKenzie et al., 2022). According to another study conducted with battered women and which investigates what helps them get out of their abusive relationships, survive and grow once they have left their abusers (Davis & Srinivasan, 1995), explains, from the very voices of the survivors, that family members are important allies in the process of leaving their abusers.

In conclusion, the importance of family, friendships and community members should be recognized for contributing to recovery from gender-based violence.

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