The role of the extended family in women's risk of intimate partner violence in Jordan

Cari J Clark, Jay G. Silverman, Manal Shahrouri, Susan Everson-Rose, Nora Groce

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84 Scopus citations


The extended family as a potential cause of and protection against intimate partner violence (IPV) remains relatively unstudied. This mixed-methods study used focus group discussions (FGDs) and a clinic-based survey to investigate several family-based risk and protective factors associated with women's risk of IPV in Jordan. Seventeen FGDs (total number of participants = 105) were conducted with women in Amman. Each transcript was coded for categories using open coding methodology and mapping. Relevant categories and subcategories were family support, family interference, family abuse, exposure to violence in childhood, and place of residence. For the survey, systematic probability proportionate to size methodology was used to select a sample of 517 literate, ever married, women from seven reproductive health clinics located throughout the country (response rate = ≤70%); due to missing data, the analytic sample was restricted to 418 women. Measures assessed the categories mentioned above. Bivariate and multivariate logistic regression models were constructed to examine the relationship between IPV and the main predictors of interest (residence, family interference, family violence, exposure to violence as a child, and family support). The combined results of the FGDs and the survey demonstrated that the respondent's husband's exposure to violence in childhood and violence perpetrated by other family members were risk factors for IPV. Family interference was also significantly related to IPV but only when the respondent identified the interference as harmful to her relationship. Residence with the respondent's in-laws demonstrated mixed effects. A supportive family was protective against IPV, although the FGDs revealed that families were not always an effective source of assistance. Findings demonstrate the continued role of the wife's and husband's kin in women's risk of IPV in Jordan, highlighting the importance of a broader view of the context of IPV.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)144-151
Number of pages8
JournalSocial Science and Medicine
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2010

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors wish to acknowledge the research staff and representatives of the participating organizations for their contribution to the successful implementation of the study. Funds for this study were provided by the American Center of Oriental Research, the U.S. Student Fulbright Program and various grants from entities at Harvard University (Committee on General Scholarships, Weatherhead Center for International Affairs, Harvard Center for Population and Development Studies, and the Department of Global Health and Population). Support for Drs. Clark and Everson-Rose during preparation of this manuscript was provided by the Program in Health Disparities Research at the University of Minnesota.

Funding Information:
While natal family members were mentioned as potential sources of abuse even after marriage, the role of the natal family as a source of protection and assistance was much stronger. The FGDs found that the natal family is the most prominent source of assistance for IPV. This finding is supported by previous research in Jordan. In one study, 84% of the female respondents believed that the family could provide all the support and assistance a victim of violence needs (Muhammad M. Haj-Yahia, 2002 ). Reliance on the family for assistance is a well documented strategy in the region ( Cwikel, Lev-Wiesel, & Al-Krenawi, 2003; El-Zanaty & Way, 2006; Khalidi & Chahine, 2004; Rabin, Markus, & Voghera, 1999 ) and beyond ( Garcia-Moreno et al., 2005; Kishor & Johnson, 2004; R. T. Naved, Azim, Bhuiya, & Persson, 2006; Pakieser, Lenaghan, & Muelleman, 1998 ).

Copyright 2010 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • Domestic violence
  • Extended family
  • Intimate partner violence
  • Jordan
  • Risk factor
  • Support
  • Women

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