The Relationship between Intimate Partner Violence and Online Help-Seeking: A Moderated Mediation Model of Emotion Dysregulation and Perceived Anonymity

International journal of environmental research and public health - Journal Article

During the COVID-19 pandemic, lockdowns and isolation have limited the availability of face-to-face support services for victims of intimate partner violence (IPV). Despite the growing need for online help in supporting IPV victims, far less is known about the underlying mechanisms between IPV and online help-seeking. We studied the mediating role of emotion dysregulation (ED) and the moderating role of perceived anonymity (PA) on the internet to explain IPV victims' willingness of online help-seeking (WOHS). Through a PROCESS analysis of the questionnaire data (n = 510, 318 female, 192 male, Mage = 22.41 years), the results demonstrate that: (1) ED has been linked with the experience of IPV, and IPV significantly induces ED. (2) When IPV victims realize the symptoms of ED, they have a strong willingness to seek external intervention to support themselves. ED mediates the relationship between IPV and online help-seeking. (3) For youth growing up in the era of social networking sites (SNS), personal privacy protection is an important factor when seeking online help. The anonymity of the internet has a positive effect on victims who experience IPV and ED, and it increases WOHS. This study introduces a new perspective on the psychological mechanism behind IPV victims' help-seeking behaviors, and it suggests that the improvement of anonymity in online support can be an effective strategy for assisting IPV victims.

Heng Xu, Jun Zeng, Zheng Cao, Huihui Hao
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