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Lessons from families and communities about interpersonal violence, victimization, and seeking help

Despite significant incidence and physical and mental health consequences, most college-age women do not tell anyone about experiences of interpersonal violence. Limited research explores the sociocultural context of seeking help related to violence in young women. The overall purpose of this research was to understand socially and culturally relevant factors associated with violence help seeking in college women. Eight focus groups were held with 64 participants. Narrative analysis was the primary method of analysis. Four qualitative categories emerged from the data: “Learning from one's mother”; “We're strong women; we fight”; “We didn't talk about it”; and “Where I'm from.” Findings suggest that help seeking is influenced by the messages from and experiences of mothers and extended family members. An understanding of familial and cultural determinants of help seeking is essential for relevant and effective prevention efforts.