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Barriers to Help-Seeking for Intimate Partner Aggression in the Rainbow Community

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posted on 2023-08-20, 22:00 authored by D'Cruz, Chelsea

People in the Rainbow community (i.e., people of diverse genders/sexualities) experience greater rates of intimate partner aggression (IPA) than the general population and have fewer help-seeking pathways available. However, current models of help-seeking, like the intimate partner violence stigmatisation model, are based on experiences of cisgender heterosexual women samples, and therefore exclude experiences of people with diverse genders and sexualities. The current research examines possible barriers for people in the Rainbow community that are underinvestigated, including perceptions of societal heteronormativity—the societal belief that being cisgender and heterosexual is the norm—and the extent to which help-seeking barriers differ between formal sources of support (e.g., police, counsellors) and informal sources of support (e.g., friends, family). In Study 1A (N = 363), structural equation modelling indicated a significant positive association between perceived societal heteronormativity and self-focused barriers (e.g., feeling too ashamed or guilty to seek help) but not with other-focused barriers (e.g., expecting unfair treatment). Instead, Rainbow people perceived greater other-focused barriers when considering formal compared to informal sources of support. Study 1B aimed to understand perceptions of barriers to help-seeking held by people in Aotearoa New Zealand’s Rainbow community, including the different perceived barriers to informal compared to formal sources of support. A reflexive thematic analysis of interviews focusing on the experiences of 10 people identified four themes: (1) Who can hold the status of being a ‘victim’?; (2) The heightened importance of autonomy; (3) Formal supports need Rainbow competency; and, (4) Judged by the outside in. The themes illustrated that Rainbow people perceive barriers at all stages of the help-seeking process, from initial identification to the decision to seek help, support selection, and actual help-seeking behaviours. Results illustrated the need to consider forms of stigma in the help-seeking process and thus extended the intimate partner violence stigmatisation model of help-seeking for IPA. Altogether, help-seeking pathways for IPA are generally inaccessible to people in the Rainbow community. IPA interventions for the Rainbow community require education and support systems for informal and formal support pathways.


Copyright Date


Date of Award



Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Rights License

Author Retains Copyright

Degree Discipline

Forensic Psychology

Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Degree Level


Degree Name

Master of Science

ANZSRC Socio-Economic Outcome code

280121 Expanding knowledge in psychology

ANZSRC Type Of Activity code

2 Strategic basic research

Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Research Masters Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

School of Psychology


Hammond, Matt; Dixon, Louise