Document Type

Dissertation

Publication Date

Fall 11-29-2004

Abstract

This dissertation provides a detailed examination of African American women’s experiences with intimate partner abuse, the methods used to contend with abusive mates, and the immediate and enduring consequences resulting from the maltreatment. As an exploratory study, these matters were considered as they are framed by Black culture and the social structure. Using in-depth interviews with 40 battered Black women, the analysis identifies similarities and variations in their experiences based on socioeconomic class, education level, and age of the participants. In particular, the respondents’ self-perception as “Strong Black Women,” and not as “victims,” is considered to account for their efforts of resistance to their battering and other life stressors. Included in this resistance is the propensity for the women to verbally and physically retaliate against their abusers. The theoretical model, called multiplicative resistance, addresses the numerous forms of domination and discrimination with which battered Black women are confronted based on their interwoven identity of race, gender, and class, and their abusive circumstances. By providing concrete information that identifies more relevant treatment strategies and resource referrals, this dissertation leads to improved assistance for battered Black women. These findings also allow for crime processing agents, such as police officers, judges, attorneys, victim advocates, and corrections officials, to be better informed on how African American women respond to abuse and the systemic controls for this social problem.

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