Violence Against Widows in Nepal: Experiences, Coping Behaviors, and Barriers in Seeking Help

Bushra Sabri, Shrutika Sabarwal, Michele R. Decker, Abina Shrestha, Kunda Sharma, Lily Thapa, Pamela J. Surkan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Widows are a vulnerable population in Nepal. This study examined Nepalese widows’ experiences of violence, their coping strategies, and barriers faced in seeking help. Study participants were recruited from Women for Human Rights, an NGO in Nepal. A stratified purposive sampling approach was used to select 51 widows and 5 staff members for in-depth interviews. Twenty-seven women who experienced violence were included in this analysis. Data were analyzed and synthesized using a thematic analysis procedure. Widows reported a range of violent experiences perpetrated by family and community members that spanned psychological, physical, and sexual abuse. Women dealt with abusive experiences using both adaptive (e.g., attempting to move ahead, seeking social support, using verbal confrontation) and maladaptive coping strategies (e.g., suicidal thoughts or self-medication). However, they faced barriers to seeking help such as insensitivity of the police, perceived discrimination, and general lack of awareness of widows’ problems and needs. Findings highlight the need for interventions across the individual, family, community, and policy levels. Avenues for intervention include creating awareness about widows’ issues and addressing cultural beliefs affecting widows’ lives. Furthermore, efforts should focus on empowering widows, promoting healthy coping, and addressing their individual needs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1744-1766
Number of pages23
JournalJournal of Interpersonal Violence
Issue number9
StatePublished - May 2015


  • Nepal
  • barriers
  • coping
  • help-seeking
  • violence
  • widows

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Applied Psychology


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