Exploring the lived experience of intimate partner violence and salutogenesis in aging Mexican-American women
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Intimate partner violence, a serious preventable public health problem affects one in three women in the US and a billion women worldwide, crossing all boundaries including age, ethnicity, religion, and socioeconomic. However, little is known about the experience of IPV in aging women, especially in aging ethnic minorities. Furthermore, there are countless hidden victims including the many children who witness repeated IPV, placing them at risk of becoming a victim of IPV or a perpetrator in their own intimate relationships. The purpose of my dissertation was to explore the lived experience of IPV through the lens of aging Mexican-American women with a history of IPV, to increase understanding of how their experience has shaped their lives today, and to identify the salutogenic factors that may have sustained health in the midst of adversity. Denzin's methodology of interpretive interactionism that embraces the interrelationship of private issues that also have societal implications guided this qualitative study. Antonovsky's Salutogenic Theory provided the sensitizing framework. Previous studies have shown the numerous adverse effects of IPV but some have also shown that women garner tremendous strength simply to survive. These studies have identified a need for ongoing research from a resource perspective to further understand this strength. This study not only addresses the IPV experience in Mexican-American women with a past history of abuse, but from a Salutogenic perspective, captures the healing journey of 12 aging women aged 55-85 in two border communities in Texas. The women in this study not only survived IPV but have discovered ways to foster health ease and even thrive in their autumn and winter years. The wisdom revealed has numerous implications for health care professionals as well as for ongoing research including holistic models for healing from IPV, universal screening throughout the life span, and inclusion of survivors in preventive efforts. An upstream approach is indeed called for as all of the women in this study proclaimed a desire to break the cycle of violence for future generations.