Experiences and support needs of survivors of domestic violence in families affected by a relative’s drinking in Goa, India: An exploratory qualitative study


Funding agency: Wellcome Trust DBT India Alliance

Duration: September 2017 – October 2018

Research Training Fellow: Ms Urvita Bhatia

Supervisors: Prof Richard Velleman and Dr Abhijit Nadkarni

Mentor: Prof Vikram Patel

Host institute: Sangath, Goa (India)


In India, an estimated 41% women report experiencing Domestic Violence (DV) in their lifetimes, while approximately 30% report recent violence. Victims of domestic violence frequently suffer from a range of deleterious physical and mental health consequences, which are exacerbated by the lack of effective avenues for help, the frequent acceptance of abuse by survivors and their communities, the fear of societal defamation and the normalization of domestic abuse, neglect and control as a ‘household/private affair’. Although legal, educational and rehabilitative services are available for survivors, interventions to address the psychological sequelae of DV are almost non-existent in India.  Anecdotal evidence suggests a lack of efficacious psychosocial support within Goa, and health service interventions, although effective, are difficult to implement in low-resource settings. These challenges can be overcome through community-based interventions, which utilize existing community resources and engage families for social support (shown to be an important protective factor). First and foremost, however, a deeper understanding of the needs and preferences of this population is required.


This study seeks to qualitatively explore the experiences of survivors of domestic violence in families affected by a relative’s drinking, in order to ultimately inform the development of effective and culturally acceptable interventions for this population. As such, we aim to listen and respond to the voice of a group that has traditionally been marginalized and underserved by the health and social sector. This study has been informed by our collective experiences in the Supporting Addiction Affected Families Effectively (SAFE) projects (2014-ongoing). SAFE is a treatment development project, aiming to adapt a psychosocial intervention for family members affected by a relative’s alcohol use. This study is conceptualized as a sub-study of SAFE.


The specific aims of the study are:


  1. To examine the ways in which survivors of domestic violence in families affected by a relative’s drinking experience, understand and cope with abuse, including their perception of the impacts of the violence.


  1. To assess the support needs of these survivors, i.e. their preferences, priorities and desired outcomes regarding sources of support that may or may not be available to them currently.