An Examination of the Impact of Domestic Abuse on Qatari Women’s Mental Health

  • Khalid Al-Naama

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


Domestic abuse against women can lead to developing mental health problems such as PTSD, Depression, or Anxiety which if not addressed can lead to serious consequences such as homicide. The primary objective of the study was to assess the occurrence of various forms of domestic abuse and investigate how domestic violence impacts the mental well-being of Qatari women. This was accomplished through the evaluation of the frequency of mental health disorders such as depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). To achieve study objectives, an explanatory sequential mixed approach was used. The overreaching research question was conceptualized to be reflected in the primary and subcategory objectives to understand domestic abuse against women in Qatar. The primary research questions were: (1) What forms of domestic abuse are prevalent and are experienced by Qatari women? (2) How does experiencing domestic abuse impact the emergence of mental health issues like PTSD, depression, and anxiety? The subcategory research questions were: (3) What factors are associated with the women’s likelihood of experiencing intimate partner violence? And the subcategory question included: (4) How is woman’s mindset associated with their risk of experiencing Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) (5) Are abused women at an elevated risk of homicide? (6) Why do abused women remain in an abusive relationship? To answer these research questions, a quantitative survey with several measurement items were employed. The measurement scales for the Conflict Tactical Scale-2 and Economic Abuse Scale-12 were used to measure forms of abuse. Anxiety, depression, and PTSD were evaluated using mental health scales of the PHQ-9, Tylor Manifest Anxiety Scale, and the PCL-C civilian version respectively. The researcher collected quantitative survey from mental health services organisations, family counselling centres, shelters for domestic abuse victims, university students, and public domain located in Qatar. Overall, three hundred fifty (350) victims of domestic abuse in the past year gave their consent, and 165 women fulfilled the study’s requirements to assess the prevalence of domestic abuse and its effects on women’s mental health; to examine factors associated with victims of domestic abuse and effects of women’s mindset on the risk of Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) victimization. Significant key findings were found from quantitative phases showing that psychological aggression and economic abuse were the most reported forms of abuse whereas physical assault and sexual coercion and injury were the least reported kinds of abuse among the participants. Also, exposure to different forms of abuse was associated with increased risk of acquiring PTSD, Depression, and Anxiety. It was additionally affirmed that an age gap between the husband and wife, having a greater number of children, a husband with lower educational attainment, a history of family violence, and being married to a polygamous partner were all linked to a heightened risk of IPV victimization.Furthermore, results show that 50.9% of the victims had traditional and conservative attitudes while 49.1% tended towards more equal rights and hold a liberal mindset about women’s rights in society. Women with a pro-feminist mindset are at increased risk of experiencing a variety of kinds of domestic abuse. The finding could help in return to understand why women tend to adhere to a more conventional mindset to have less heated conflict in their lives. The risk of homicide was relatively low among the current sample as indicated by 78.8%. The low score represented at variable danger, the remaining 21.2% represents the presence of increased danger. Neither severe nor extreme danger in the current sample was reported which imply a high risk of homicide. The researcher further explored qualitatively why abused women remain inactive or passive in the abusive relationship to augment the results obtained from the quantitative phase. Twenty women participated in the qualitative phase, and all were interviewed from WAYAK Mental Health Friends Association. Eight themes emerged from the participants’ narratives in the qualitative phase centred around the individual, family, and societal factors. The eight themes were hopeless and psychological abuse, physical abuse, economic abuse during marriage and post-divorce, husband and wife socioeconomic status and risk of abuse, family pressure in marriage, bureaucracy and forms of divorce, family law and victims’ rights, and risk of developing PTSD, depression and anxiety. All these were established and supported by the quantitative findings. Those Distinctive patterns that emerged from the participants’ narratives rationalize and provide another line of thought on understanding women’s decision to remain in an abusive relationship. This was due to post-divorce arrangements in the family such as change in the child custody entitlement, victims’ poor financial resources, and concern about post-divorce financial and residential arrangements among divorced mothers. As in many other countries in the region, women domestic abuse is prevalent in Qatar and affects the victims’ mental health. Moreover, the present study highlights the imperative need for the Qatari government to implement substantial measures aimed at preventing domestic violence. This research contributes to the expanding body of literature on domestic abuse victims in the Middle East, an area that has historically received limited focus, notably in Qatar.
Date of Award21 Dec 2023
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorJohn Synnott (Main Supervisor) & Maria Ioannou (Co-Supervisor)

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