Difficult Conversations: The Dynamics Surrounding New Zealand Women's Disclosure of Intimate Partner Violence to Family and Friends
One in three New Zealand women has experienced Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) at some stage in their lives, with the vast majority of these women disclosing to a family member or friend at some stage during or after the relationship. Therefore, it is important to understand the dynamics involved with this disclosure. This study draws on feminist perspectives and a grounded theory methodology to examine six women’s experiences with these dynamics. These women reported being very careful about when they disclosed, often going to great lengths to hide the abuse, and who they disclosed to. Furthermore, they explained that they felt a number of barriers to disclosure, both of a personal and social nature. They also described a number of different reactions they received, both negative and positive. In reflecting on their situations these women had come to a number of realisations, while during the interviews a number of observations were made, particularly regarding the strength they showed. In bringing their experiences together, it was clear that upon disclosure women require their family and friends to listen non-judgementally; help them to understand IPV; support the woman’s decisions; and offer tangible support if necessary. However, negative experiences were not uncommon, and it was hypothesised that there are two forms of this: passive, which comes about through a lack of understanding; and active, which comes about through a conscious decision to be unsupportive. In concluding, it was suggested that widespread education be introduced, and public awareness campaigns be widened, to increase public understanding of IPV.