Listening to young mothers talk about interpersonal violence

Left out of these investigations are women who do not define the violence as problematic in their lives or who find alternate means to cope with the violence. Since this study uses a less traditional sample, it is hoped that a wider spectrum of experiences with violence might emerge.

A related bias can be observed in the interpersonal violence research that has been conducted with women who have self-identified as survivors of abuse in community samples. A weakness of this research has been that it excludes women that do not identify the violence that occurs in their relationships as abuse. The language and categories that women use to describe the violence in their relationships may be markedly different than the language and categories of the researcher. To get a truer perspective on the actual experiences of women, it is important to allow women the latitude to describe and define the dynamics within their relationships without imposing the researcher’s preconceived concepts upon them.

Finally, it is important to contextualize women’s experiences of interpersonal violence within the uniqueness of their developmental history and current life situation. Contextualized experiences of young women who report relationship violence will be contrasted with those of young women who do not report such violence. This type of analysis may begin to disentangle the effects of relationship violence from the effects of other factors connected with the relative poverty and youth of this population.

Interview transcripts will be analyzed thematically with a focus on how relational dynamics and life circumstances mutually influence one another. Comparisons will be drawn between experiences on the continuum of violence. Implications for future research and practice will be explored. Findings should result in service recommendations for violence prevention and intervention programs. It is also hoped that findings may contribute to current policy debates about welfare reform, pregnancy prevention efforts, marriage policy, and collaborations between child welfare and domestic violence service providers.

Institute for Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault