Women's strategic responses to violence in Nicaragua

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date



Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health








Study objective - To describe the responses of women in León, Nicaragua to partner abuse and identify contextual factors associated with the use of certain coping mechanisms and the likelihood of permanent separation. Design - Cross sectional population-based survey. Setting - León, Nicaragua. Participants - 188 women 15-49 years of age who had experienced physical partner abuse, out of 488 women interviewed. Main results - 66% of women defended themselves effectively from abuse either physically or verbally. Forty one per cent of women had left home temporarily because of violence and 20% had sought help outside the home. Women experiencing severe abuse were more likely to leave or seek help, whereas women with less severe abuse were more able to defend themselves effectively. Seventy per cent of women eventually left abusive relationships. Help seeking and temporary separations increased the likelihood of a permanent separation, whereas women who defended themselves and were able to stop the violence, at least temporarily, were more likely to remain in abusive relationships. Conclusions - Women in Nicaragua use a variety of methods in order to overcome physical partner abuse. Temporary leaving and help seeking are critical steps in the process of leaving a violent relationship. However, many women indicated that they did not receive support for their situation. More interventions are needed to help women recognise and deal with violence, as well as strengthening the community support networks available to abused women.