FSD3110 Domestic Violence Met by Educated Women 2015

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  • Pitkänen, Maiju (University of Helsinki. Department of Practical Theology)


assault, domestic violence, empowerment, faith, the highly educated, women

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This survey study charted domestic violence met by highly educated women in Finland. The study focused on the forms, prevalence and effects of domestic violence. The survey also examined the importance of faith as a coping resource in abusive relationships. The study was carried out as a part of a Master's thesis, and it is also a part of the international "Domestic Violence Met by Educated Women" (DVMEW) research project, which is a Grundtvig Multilateral Project funded by the European Commission's Lifelong Learning programme.

The respondents were first asked about violence they may have seen or experienced in their childhood home or in other families' homes. The women were also asked to evaluate the intensity of the violence they had experienced in their childhood. Next, the participants' experiences of their current or latest steady relationship were examined with questions about whether the woman identified, physically and mentally, as the stronger or the weaker party, and whether or not the woman felt like she was valued in the relationship. The partner's education level in relation to the woman's own educational background was also enquired, as well as the general quality of the relationship. The respondents' opinions on their current or latest partner's character were recorded with yes/no answers on a set of characteristics, such as "He/she tries to restrict me from meeting with my friends and relatives"; "He/she demands to know who I am with and when I will return home"; "He/she threatens to harm the children"; and "He/she intentionally damages our shared property". The women were also asked about how frequently during the relationship their partner had, for instance, belittled them, used derogatory names, or acted in a violent manner (e.g. by slapping, hitting, throwing with a hard object, strangling, and pressuring or forcing to have sex with them).

The next questions concerned the first signs that had led to serious acts of domestic violence, according to the respondents who had experienced violence in their current relationship. The women assessed their common reactions at the moment of the violent act with yes/no questions. The frequency of violent acts, the women's own means of defence, physical injuries and other results of abuse, such as nightmares and lack of concentration, were enquired about as well. The respondents' views on the source of the partner's violent behaviour were also probed. The respondents were asked if they had sought help from different authorities and other professionals, and whether or not they had been satisfied with the help they had received. Reasons for not seeking help were also examined.

The importance of faith in the respondents' lives was investigated next. The respondents were asked to describe if faith had worked as a coping resource in an abusive relationship or if it had had negative effects during times of domestic violence. Views were also examined on other possible coping resources and the best means for coping in a relationship. The respondents whose partners had stopped acting violently toward them were asked to evaluate reasons behind it. Finally, the respondents answered similar questions about domestic violence as before, but regarding an earlier relationship.

The survey started by charting the respondents' background information. Mandatory questions included the woman's marital status and education level. Background variables also included the respondent's and her children's ages, number of people in the household, and the respondent's economic independence in the relationship.

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