Date of Award

January 2014

Document Type

Open Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Public Health (MPH)


School of Public Health

First Advisor

Danya E. Keene


Background: Intimate partner violence (IPV) is a problem in many parts of the world, including Scotland. Bystander interventions can reduce the number and severity of episodes of IPV.

Objective: This study explored the potential barriers to intervening to stop intimate partner violence in Scotland.

Methods: This research is part of a larger study that used a mixed methods approach. Thirty-one people (14 males; an age range of 18-78 years) who participated in five focus groups (each comprising around six people) which were conducted in Alloa, Glasgow, and Kilmarnock, Scotland in July and August of 2013.

Results: Five key themes emerged as common to participants' experiences and important to their decisions whether to intervene if they witness or overhear violence: 1) the distinction between public and private violence, 2) concern about unintended consequences of intervening, 3) collective efficacy, 4) perceptions of victim vulnerability, and 5) self-efficacy. When these themes were analyzed together two significant barriers to intervention were revealed: 1) pervasive violence in some communities makes intervention unreasonably dangerous to bystanders, and 2) the private setting in which most IPV is perpetrated makes it difficult to identify and less conducive to intervention.

Conclusions: There is a need to raise awareness of IPV and the role the public can play in reducing the incidence and severity of IPV in Scotland. The findings provide insight into when and how members of the Scottish public might intervene in cases of IPV. This knowledge is important to inform the development of culturally-appropriate bystander interventions.


This is an Open Access Thesis.

Open Access

This Article is Open Access