Barriers to Intervention Engagement Among Women Experiencing Intimate Partner Violence Proximal to Pregnancy


Objective: Pregnant women are at heightened risk for experiencing intimate partner violence (IPV), which is associated with perinatal health problems and harmful fetal effects. Pregnancy may represent a unique opportunity during which women are highly motivated to address IPV, but barriers impede intervention engagement. This study evaluated barriers to intervention engagement for women experiencing IPV proximal to their pregnancy. Method: Participants were recruited via purposive sampling (i.e., flyers and direct referrals). Nine women exposed to IPV during or immediately preceding their pregnancy participated in qualitative feedback sessions. Five participants reported their race as Black, with the remaining participants identifying as Asian American, White, Hispanic, or Biracial. Participants' average annual income was $12,000 or less, which is below the federal poverty line. Consensual qualitative research was used to identify themes within the transcribed data. Results: Six core themes were identified as potential barriers to intervention engagement: mental health barriers (e.g., depressive symptoms), pregnancy- and health-related barriers (e.g., physical health symptoms), partner-related barriers (e.g., direct interference or demoralization from a violent partner), practical barriers (e.g., transportation, lack of compensation, and childcare), cultural barriers (e.g., normalization of IPV and societal stigma), and perceived systemic barriers (e.g., fear or mistrust of helping systems and lack of available resources). Conclusions: Findings highlight the need for cultural sensitivity, nonjudgmental style, a nondirective stance toward leaving the relationship, and system-level changes that improve intervention accessibility to overcome perceived barriers to intervention engagement among IPVexposed pregnant women.

Publication Title

Psychology of Violence