Research challenges stereotypes of abused women

Despite the commonly held stereotype of the battered woman who is too afraid to take action to stop the abuse, many women actually do call the police when they’re being physically assaulted.

However, a number of factors — including age, race, educational levels, income, religion and location — play a role in whether or not a woman will call the police if she’s being physically battered, according to Betty Barrett, an associate professor in the School of Social Work and the Women’s Studies program.

Along with psychology graduate student Melissa St. Pierre and former social work grad student Nadine Vaillancourt, Dr. Barrett analyzed data collected during the 1999 General Social Survey, a household telephone survey conducted by Statistics Canada. The study revealed that of the 383 respondents who reported being physically abused and having some contact with the police, more than 77 percent of them had self-reported to the police.

“We were a little surprised by that because we thought it would have been someone else, like a neighbour or a friend, who reported,” Barrett said. “What our research shows is that women are seeking help. It challenges the notion that women are helpless, passive victims.”

Barrett will deliver a lecture on the subject, sponsored by the Health Research Centre for the Study of Violence Against Women, at noon on Friday in room 203 of the Toldo Health Education Centre.

She will also appear today on Research Matters, a weekly talk show on CJAM 99.1 FM that focuses on University of Windsor researchers and airs every Thursday at 4:30 p.m.