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Trauma Violence Abuse. 2019 May 30:1524838019852638. doi: 10.1177/1524838019852638. [Epub ahead of print]

Indigenous Peoples' Help-Seeking Behaviors for Family Violence: A Scoping Review.

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1 Department of General Practice, The University of Melbourne, Carlton, Victoria, Australia.


Indigenous peoples are more likely than non-Indigenous peoples to experience family violence (FV), with wide-reaching impacts on individuals, families, and communities. Despite this, service providers indicate that Indigenous peoples are less likely to seek support than non-Indigenous peoples. Little is known about the reasons for this, particularly from the perspective of Indigenous people themselves. In this scoping review, we explore the views Indigenous peoples have on help seeking for FV. Online databases, Google Scholar, and reference lists were searched for relevant studies. Inclusion and exclusion criteria were applied so that only original studies where the Indigenous voice was specifically sought were chosen. Fifteen studies met our inclusion criteria including qualitative and mixed-methods research. Studies were conducted in the Americas, New Zealand, Australia, and India. Overall, findings suggest that Indigenous peoples are reluctant to engage in help-seeking behaviors for FV. Data were inductively organized into three main themes reflecting this reluctance: tendency to avoid help seeking (acknowledging the barriers of shame, tight-knit communities, and inappropriate service responses causing mistrust and fear), turning to informal support networks, and help is sought when crisis point is reached. We conclude that to overcome barriers for Indigenous peoples seeking help for FV, improving service providers response to FV through training and more research about what works is required; these activities need to be informed by both male and female Indigenous voices.


Indigenous; domestic violence; family violence; help seeking; support


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