Awarded New Investigator/Doctoral Dissertation Grant

Abstract

Intimate partner violence (IPV) affects women worldwide. However, very little is known about this phenomenon among Hispanic immigrant women, particularly in the Southeastern USA. This study seeks to provide the first data on this topic for Alabama. More importantly, we examine how Hispanics perceive IPV and how those perceptions affect their helpseeking behaviors. The current literature on the topic indicates that no studies have been done linking perceptions of violence with help-seeking behaviors. The specific aims of this study are to: 1) describe the burden of IPV in the Hispanic community and the sociodemographic characteristics of Hispanic victims and non-victims of IPV in Alabama; 2) examine how Hispanic women perceive intimate partner violence and how this perception affects their help-seeking; and 3) examine characteristics of the population to determine knowledge of available resources, help-seeking behaviors and barriers to helpseeking. We will recruit 700 women from the community at large in both the Birmingham (urban) and Anniston (rural) areas, as well as from the post-partum unit at our University Hospital, to complete a questionnaire on topics pertaining to IPV. Additionally, we will conduct key informant interviews with 30 known Hispanic IPV victims. The use of several populations will enable better comprehension of the problem of IPV within the Hispanic community. Data will be analyzed using both qualitative and quantitative methods to address the study aims and research questions posed. The results of this research will provide valuable insight into how Hispanic IPV victims perceive abuse, how these perceptions affect victims’ help-seeking, and how cultural and other factors may influence such behavior. The knowledge gained may also be used to inform service providers and to develop educational programs and other interventions to better meet the needs of Hispanic IPV victims and thereby reduce existing health disparities.