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“It will always continue unless we can change something”: consequences of intimate partner violence for indigenous women, children, and families


Violence against indigenous women and girls is endemic, yet the absence of research on the consequences of this violence from the perspectives of women presents a profound barrier to the development of knowledge, along with violence prevention and mitigation. Although family is central to many indigenous communities, existing research typically examines the consequences of intimate partner violence (IPV) on women or children in isolation, rather than examining its consequences holistically. The purpose of this article is to identify US indigenous women's perspectives about the impact of IPV on women, children, and families. Data were collected with 29 indigenous women affected by violence from a Southeastern tribe in the United States. As part of a larger critical ethnography, pragmatic horizon analysis of life history interviews revealed the consequences of IPV across multiple levels. Women reported profound psychological consequences resulting from IPV. The majority of women had witnessed IPV in their childhood, providing support for an intergenerational cycle of violence. Women reported psychological consequences on children, which paralleled those reported by women, leaving deep impressions on children across their life course. Consequences on children and whole families were extensive, indicating the negative ramifications of IPV transcended personal boundaries and affected children and families across multiple generations. Given the tight-knit nature of indigenous families and communities, the consequences across individuals and families were noteworthy. However, a dearth in research examining consequences of IPV across levels fails to capture the interconnections of consequences for women, children, and families. Given the centrality of family in many indigenous communities, examining IPV from a holistic perspective that incorporates multiple levels is recommended for IPV research and intervention development.

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