Dissertation Defense Announcement

School of Public Health announces the Final Dissertation Defense of

Michael Schmidt

for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy

March 26, 2019 at 3:00 PM in Robison Hall, Room 117

Advisor: Satish K. Kedia

Exploring Help-Seeking Behavior among Minority Women Survivors of Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) in the Mid-South of the United States

ABSTRACT: One in four US women have experienced intimate partner violence (IPV): lifetime prevalence of physical IPV 31.5% and psychological aggression 47.1% among survivors. African American and Hispanic women's lifetime IPV is 43.7% and 37.1%, respectively—higher than White women's (34.6%). IPV poses significant risks to physical, psychological, and emotional health. Women affected by IPV, especially minority survivors, face barriers in seeking help from informal and formal supporters. Barriers and facilitators to formal help-seeking for minority survivors are not well understood. This study explored similarities and differences in barriers and facilitators to formal support help-seeking between African American and Hispanic IPV women survivors. Qualitative study using grounded theory methodology was conducted with 29 survivors (15 African American, 14 Hispanic). Key barriers to formal help-seeking were lack of knowledge about support resources, avoidance of judgment, compliance with abuse normalization, and lack of interaction with police. African American participants delayed formal help-seeking because they lacked information about support resources, did not want to be judged weak, complied with norms emphasizing romantic relationships, and avoided contact with police due to fear of abusers' reprisals. Hispanic participants delayed formal help-seeking because they lacked information about support resources and victims' rights, did not want to be ridiculed, complied with norms emphasizing marriage and motherhood, and received little information from police. Key facilitators to formal help-seeking included five novel findings: taking steps to acquire information about support resources, changing one's thinking about support resources, resisting abusers' manipulation tactics, covering basic needs, and feeling empowered. African American participants used help-lines and library resources, changed their doubts about support resources as they experienced their benefits, resisted abusers' pleas to drop charges, employed personal and many formal resources to meet needs, and found purpose in helping others. Hispanic participants used radio and newspapers, changed their misperceptions about support resources as they encountered more supportive helpers and services than expected, and employed personal and few formal resources to meet needs. Findings indicate formal support interventions that build upon survivors' strengths may be useful in promoting survivors' earlier initiation of help-seeking as well as their retention in support services and programs.