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Background: Men and women's perceptions of intimate partner violence (IPV) within crisis-affected populations are not well understood. This mixed-methods study examined the frequency of IPV against women in urban Cote d'Ivoire, and qualitatively explored how men and women perceive the impact of various forms of IPV on health, everyday activities, and feelings of shame.

Methods: A survey was administered to Ivorian women (N = 80) to measure the frequency of IPV, and ten focus group discussions were conducted with women (n = 46) and men (n = 45) to explore perceptions of different forms of IPV, including its impacts on disruptions to health, everyday activities, and experiences of shame.

Results: Half of all surveyed women (53.6%) reported past year exposure to physical, sexual, or emotional IPV. Of the multiple types of violence, emotional IPV was most common (46.4%), followed by sexual IPV (21.7%) and physical IPV (17.4%). Focus group participants identified additional forms of violence including economic IPV and community discrimination. Lack of financial resources and unemployment were common problems among crisis-affected women and were described as an underlying source of IPV. Both women and men reported that shame and stigma play a large role in how women experience the repercussions of IPV, regardless of the form of violence, with public episodes of IPV almost always seen as more detrimental than private episodes of IPV.

Conclusions: These results underscore the need for increased social support mechanisms for women to reduce the shame, stigma, and isolation associated with their experiences. The creation of safe and supportive spaces for women to talk about and challenge social norms may be an important first step in reducing community shaming and the secrecy that often surrounds IPV. Safe spaces along with broader societal outreach, including challenging men's social positions and creating opportunities for increasing economic resources can, in turn potentially decrease the frequency of IPV and its deleterious impacts on a woman's well-being.





This article is the authors' final published version in PLUS ONE, Volume 11, Issue 6, June 16, 2016, Article number e0157348.

The published version is available at Copyright © Shuman et al.

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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.