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Graduate Defense: Sheena Gilbert

April 8 @ 1:20 pm - 2:20 pm MDT

Thesis Information

Title: Intimate Partner Violence in a Native American Community: An Exploratory Study

Program: Master of Arts in Criminal Justice

Advisor: Dr. Lane Gillespie, School of Public Service

Committee: Dr. Laura L. King, School of Public Service, and Dr. Jacqueline Lee, School of Public Service

Abstract

Native Americans experience a higher rate of intimate partner violence (IPV) compared to other racial/ethnic groups (Bachman et al., 2010; Bachman et al., 2008; Bohn, 2003; Bryant-Davis et al., 2009; Bubar, 2009; Dugan & Apel, 2003; Hamby, 2000; Perry, 2004), however, there is limited research that examines IPV among Native American populations. To understand Native American victimization, it is important to understand the historical context as it relates to trauma and oppression and how these experiences influence Native victimization experiences today. Historical context, legislation, and current policies are described, as are research findings pertaining to Native IPV. This research, paired with the broader body of IPV research, provides the foundation for the current study in regards to four areas of focus: occurrence, characteristics and risk factors, reporting and reporting barriers, and victim service utilization and barriers. Using survey methodology, this exploratory study involved collaboration with a tribe in the Western United States and sought to answer several research questions relating to the focus areas. Summary and descriptive statistics are presented based on a convenience sample (N=32). Overall, the findings regarding prevalence of violence, including IPV, coincide with prior research. Regarding characteristics and risk factors of victimization, findings both coincide with and are contradictory to prior literature. Furthermore, regarding barriers to reporting and seeking services, findings coincide with prior literature in that victims in this study face unique barriers which are similar to those living in rural locations and also specific to reservation living. The discussion and conclusion contextualize these findings within prior IPV literature, both specific to Native Americans and the general public, and offer recommendations for future research.