Resilience and Vulnerability Factors Associated with Experiencing Intimate Partner Violence by Multiple Abusive Partners Among U.S. Women: A Mixed Methods Study Public Deposited

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  • December 15, 2021
  • Person, Cara
    • Affiliation: Gillings School of Global Public Health, Department of Health Behavior
  • Background: Intimate partner violence (IPV) is a preventable public health problem that affects over 35% of U.S. women. While 27-86% of survivors have experienced IPV by multiple abusive partners (MAPs), few studies have examined what makes some survivors more vulnerable to experiencing MAPs, or whether they have specific domestic violence (DV) service and social support needs. This dissertation addresses these knowledge gaps by: 1) determining associations between initial abusive relationship (IAR) resilience and vulnerability factors and experiencing IPV by MAPs and 2) exploring how IPV by MAPs survivors have accessed and utilized services, social support, and engaged other coping strategies. Methods: Using a mixed methods approach, in Study 1, I analyzed National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey (NISVS) data (n = 16,507) using multivariate logistic regression and moderation analysis methods. In Study 2, I conducted in-depth interviews with IPV by MAPs survivors (n = 20) and analyzed the data by employing thematic analysis and interpretive coding methods. Results: NISVS analyses indicated that 15.6% of women who experienced physical and/or sexual IPV experienced IPV by MAPs (n = 405). These women experienced more frequent IAR IPV (OR: 1.21, p <.01) and were therefore more likely to use services (OR: 1.30, p <.05) than women with one abusive partner. Women who did not receive social support during their IARs were more likely to experience IPV by MAPs as they got older (OR: 1.02, p <.05). Interviews revealed that IPV by MAPs survivors sought help from formal and informal sources and that: 1) negative initial encounters with service providers made them less likely to seek help in a subsequent relationship; 2) positive initial encounters, often after multiple abusive relationships, helped them leave their abusers; and 3) receipt of mixed reactions to disclosures of abuse from informal sources were common. Conclusions: These results indicate that IPV by MAPs survivors are a distinct group whose vulnerability to chronic IPV is affected by frequent IPV in their IARs and a lack of engagement with helpful services and social support. Prevention efforts should address the need for service provider training, expanded support, and access to appropriately tailored DV-related services.
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  • In Copyright
  • McNaughton Reyes, H. Luz
  • Maman, Suzanne
  • Ennett, Susan
  • Macy, Rebecca
  • Moracco, Kathryn (Beth)
  • Bowling, J. Michael
  • Doctor of Philosophy
Degree granting institution
  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Graduate School
Graduation year
  • 2018

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