Date of Award

2017

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Psychology

First Advisor

Patricia Morokoff

Abstract

Intimate partner violence (IPV) is a widespread occurrence in the United States, particularly in women’s same sex relationships. Unfortunately, beyond preliminary data on prevalence rates, little is known about how the power dynamics in women's same sex IPV compares to that of heterosexual couples. The purpose of the current study is to describe the types of abuse women experience in same sex relationships, illustrate the role of power and control over the course of an abusive relationship, and demonstrate the extent to which abuse changes over time within a relationship and during a woman's subsequent relationships. Using qualitative methods, twelve women described their experiences of same sex partner violence through phone interviews. All women in the sample had experienced at least one past instance of same sex IPV, though they could identify sexually however they chose. Interviews were analyzed using manifest content analysis to describe common responses to each research questions from the women's stories. Results suggest that women experienced all forms of IPV in same sex relationships, endured several domains of powerless and lack of control over their partners, and described abuse as a one-sided, increasingly intense trajectory with their first same sex partner. Participants also provided helpful reflections and suggestions for healthcare professionals and therapists based on their experiences with help seeking. Implications for provider education and therapeutic interventions are discussed.

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