Barriers Affecting Access to and Use of Formal Social Supports Among Abused Immigrant Women


  • Sepali Guruge
  • Janice Humphreys


Social support is critical for women dealing with intimate partner violence (IPV). When support from their informal sources, such as family, friends, and neighbours, is limited, women tend to access services provided by health professionals, social workers, and settlement workers. In this qualitative descriptive study, community leaders who were also first-generation immigrants describe the complexities of immigrant women's access to and use of formal supports to deal with IPV in Canada. The findings show that a number of factors negatively shape the experiences of these women: lack of familiarity with services, inappropriate services and intervention strategies, lack of culturally and linguistically appropriate services, lack of portability and coordination of services, confidentiality concerns, and discriminatory and racist practices embedded in services and service delivery. In order to improve care for women dealing with IPV in the post-migration context, health professionals must collaborate with social workers and settlement workers to address structural barriers that limit women's access to and use of formal social support.