Is Perceived Need for Action Among Women in Violent Relationships Nonlinear and, If So, Why?

David A. Katerndahl, Sandra K. Burge, Robert L. Ferrer, Johanna Becho, Robert Wood

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Despite the prevalence and impact of partner violence, we understand little about women’s action taking except that it seems an unpredictable, nonlinear process. This article determines the degree of nonlinearity in perceived need for help, legal action, or leaving among women in violent relationships. The participants included 143 women who experienced violence in the previous month, enrolled from six primary care clinics. Baseline surveys assessed background characteristics and factors which may affect perceived need for action. Multiple times series assessments of violence and need for action were collected daily for 8 weeks via telephone Interactive Voice Response. Measures of nonlinearity of violence, perceived need for help, legal action, and leaving were computed. Repeated measures ANOVA assessed differences across measures of nonlinearity. To identify factors contributing to nonlinearity, staged multiple regression assessed the relationship between nonlinearity measures and outcomes. Ninety-three women completed sufficient time series for nonlinearity assessment. Measures of nonlinearity were lower for need for legal action compared with needs for help and leaving. Regression analysis suggested that isolation, social networks, and lack of awareness contribute to nonlinearity. Women’s perceived need for legal action and its level of nonlinearity were lowest compared with those of help seeking and leaving. Although its relative linearity suggests that the need for legal action may be the most predictable, its lower mean rating suggests that legal action is a low priority. Although need for help and leaving are of higher priorities, their nonlinearity suggests that intervention will not yield predictable results.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)330-353
Number of pages24
JournalJournal of Interpersonal Violence
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Jan 2021


  • anything related to domestic violence
  • battered women domestic violence
  • domestic violence cultural contexts
  • legal intervention domestic violence
  • perceptions of domestic violence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Applied Psychology


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