Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository


Master of Science




Dr. Marilyn Ford-Gilboe


Despite the high rates of service use across sectors, there is increasing evidence that women exposed to intimate partner violence have unmet care needs and face barriers in accessing health and other services. The purpose of this study was to explore women’s experiences of taking part in a primary health care intervention for adult women who had recently left an abusive intimate partner with a particular focus on how women’s varied social locations affect their experiences. The qualitative content analysis grounded in an intersectional perspective that is presented here is part of a larger feasibility study of the “Intervention for Health Enhancement After Leaving” [iHEAL] in Ontario. Three themes were identified: 1) Spinning in Circles, reflected women’s experiences of blame and barriers as they actively sought help to deal with abuse and its consequences, 2) Finding my Footing, suggests that women experienced shifting needs in their attempt to deal with the effects of violence and found the intervention to be collaborative and individualized support, and, 3) Moving Forward describes a shift in knowledge, skills, and connections that positioned women to move forward with their lives. The findings suggest that, among women who have recently left an abusive partner, women are actively help-seeking but finding a poor service-fit with need as they transition out of a violent relationship. Women universally reported that the relationship with the interventionist was critical to developing knowledge, skill and connections to resources in order to aid their healing and help with their ability to move forward. The iHEAL is a promising intervention that has the potential to positively impact women’s health and quality of life after leaving.