Escaping the triple trap: coping strategies of pregnant adolescent survivors of domestic violence in Mulago hospital, Uganda

Scand J Public Health. 2007;35(2):180-6. doi: 10.1080/14034940600858490.


Objective: Why domestic violence survivors develop adverse outcomes following domestic violence during pregnancy is unclear, but may depend on how survivors cope with the stress of violence. The objective was to describe strategies pregnant adolescents employ in coping with domestic violence.

Methods: This was a qualitative study involving 16 in-depth interviews with adolescent domestic violence survivors who attended the antenatal clinic in Mulago hospital, Kampala, Uganda, from January to May 2004. Theoretical sampling, necessitated by the emergent theory from sequential data collection and analysis, further provided diversity of experiences from adolescents of different ages, parity, pregnancy duration, and socioeconomic status until saturation was reached. Data were analyzed using grounded theory.

Findings: Survivors described varied experiences of physical, sexual, and psychological violence. Coping strategies employed were analyzed as: Minimizing damage - decreasing impact and severity of violence, withdrawal - physical or social withdrawal, seeking help and retaliation (fighting back). Coping strategies were influenced by adolescence and pregnancy, and are explained in relation to theories of coping with stress.

Conclusions: Coping strategies adopted by pregnant adolescent survivors range from problem-focused approaches to emotion-focused approaches. Coping strategies are influenced markedly by adolescence and pregnancy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Adolescent
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications / psychology
  • Pregnancy Outcome / psychology*
  • Pregnancy in Adolescence / psychology*
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Spouse Abuse / psychology*
  • Stress, Psychological / complications
  • Stress, Psychological / psychology
  • Survivors / psychology*
  • Uganda / epidemiology