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Intimate Partner Abuse among African American Lesbians: Prevalence, Risk Factors, Theory, and Resilience

Abstract

The purpose of this article is to present an intersectionality-based model for conceptualizing the risk factors associated with intimate partner abuse (IPA) among African American lesbians. The available literature on prevalence and risk factors associated with IPA suggests that: (a) estimates of prevalence rates for African American lesbian IPA could range from 25 % to 40 %, with the higher end of the range representing the inclusion of nonphysical forms of abuse (i.e., verbal abuse, intimidation, and coercion); and (b) the risk factors most likely to be associated with IPA for this population include poverty, history of trauma and mental health symptoms (including substance abuse), in addition to distress caused by multiple and intersecting forms of oppression (i.e., racialized, classist sexism and heterosexism). The model demonstrates the manner in which all of these risk factors intersect to create disproportionately high risk for this underresearched and underserved population. A psychodynamically based model is also presented that illustrates the cycle of abuse within an African American lesbian relationship. Finally, a model depicting the most likely protective factors segues into a brief concluding discussion about the implications for intervention, prevention, policy, education, and future research.

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Correspondence to Nicholle A. Hill.

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Hill, N.A., Woodson, K.M., Ferguson, A.D. et al. Intimate Partner Abuse among African American Lesbians: Prevalence, Risk Factors, Theory, and Resilience. J Fam Viol 27, 401–413 (2012). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10896-012-9439-z

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Keywords

  • African American
  • Lesbian
  • Intimate partner abuse
  • Risk factors