Date of Award

Spring 5-2018

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Social Work (DSW)


Social Work

First Advisor

Dr. Yashoda Sharma

Second Advisor

Dr. Barth Yeboah

Third Advisor

Dr. FangHsun Wei


The purpose of this study is to examine the nature and scope of Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) experience by Jamaican women. In Jamaica, IPV cases are not documented under appropriate indices and as a result there is a lack of studies with qualitative and quantitative data. Jamaica has serious safety concerns; the majority of murders occur due to domestic violence. Sexual assault is a significant predictor and contributor to IPV, and it is the second most common cause of injury for women on the island. Women attending a religious institution located within the northeastern corridor of the United States were recruited to participate in this study through purposive sampling and snowballing methods. They were individually interviewed and they were asked five-open-ended question about their experiences of physical, sexual and emotional violence, the perpetrator’s reaction, the reaction of family and friends, and the women’s help-seeking behavior. The principles of qualitative narrative theory and grounded theory were utilized to identify and configure themes. Research participants were heterosexual Jamaican women with an average age of 40 years old. The participants had experienced three forms of abuse, however, the experience of sexual and physical abuse were more severe among eighty percent of the participants. Perpetrators reacted to being confronted over food, sex, money, how to parent their children, and refusal to pay the utility bills and buy groceries, by abusing the women and thereafter engaging in an extended period of silence—emotional isolation; and leaving the home—spatial isolation as a form of control. When the women shared their experiences with violence to their family and friends, they reacted as silent witnesses and offered little or no support, encouraging them to leave their concerns to God. The women’s help-seeking approaches focus on praying and fasting, at the urging of church pastors who often admonished the women to be more spiritually submissive to their partners. Findings indicates that there is a strong relationship between the women’s religious beliefs and their decision to stay with the perpetrator; women’s perception of their IPV experience is shaped by the tenets of Jamaican cultural values and norms; a lack of institutional support, gaps in governmental policy in the area of IPV, lack of intervention and prevention resources, education, and ongoing economic constraints that influence the participants’ outlook and acts as barriers to their decision to leave the perpetrator. Equally, systems of shame—government, religion, media, family, and community—often left the women isolated and harboring feelings of humiliation and confusion, forcing them back into the shadow of the abuse. It is imperative to teach social work students about the role of culture, religion and government in shaping women’s perception about IPV; the risk to women from all forms of IPV increases due to lack of awareness, social support, and governmental policy protection. Social work researchers in Jamaica must forge ontologies that denote their culture’s reality, versus relying on outsiders to coin or fabricate the meaning of what they believe Jamaica represents. Jamaican women’s realities must also be documented offering their perspectives via research.

Included in

Social Work Commons



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