Coping with intimate partner violence: Qualitative findings from the study of dynamics of husband to wife abuse

Erin L. Foster, Johanna Becho, Sandra K Burge, Melissa A. Talamantes, Robert L. Ferrer, Robert C. Wood, David A Katerndahl

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Introduction: Coping can be defined as an individual's efforts to manage a problem. In Intimate Partner Violence (IPV), coping depends heavily on relationship context, circumstances, and resource availability. The range of coping strategies utilized by women experiencing violence are not fully understood. Method: Two hundred female patients who screened positive for verbal or physical abuse were recruited from 6 primary care clinics in San Antonio. Subjects were instructed to complete a baseline survey, which included the COPE scale, as well as daily telephone reports, weekly contact with research staff, and an end-of-study survey. A total of 42 women completed an in-depth qualitative interview at the end of 3 months. Results: Using a template approach to qualitative analysis, interview transcripts were analyzed and coded. "Coping" as a theme emerged independently and was categorized into 14 subcategories, according to the COPE scale; the most commonly endorsed themes from interviews were "avoidance" and "active coping." Previously undescribed methods of coping with IPV were also discovered using this approach, including "preventing escalation" and "ignoring." Discussion: In a qualitative study of women living with IPV, coping emerged as an independent theme. We found that the women used methods not listed on the COPE standardized scale at least as often as more traditional categories. It is important for family medicine clinicians to be aware of the wide variety of coping mechanisms to best address safety planning.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)285-294
Number of pages10
JournalFamilies, Systems and Health
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1 2015


  • Coping
  • IPV
  • Intervention
  • Primary care setting
  • Violence dynamics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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