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Open Access Publications from the University of California

The Intersection of Trauma, Race and Gender in the United States

  • Author(s): Ricks, Joni Ladawn
  • Advisor(s): Cochran, Susan D
  • et al.

This dissertation examines the effect of several different potentially traumatic experiences. The first study, using information from six years of the California Women's Health Survey (1999-2001, 2003-2005), examined the association between food insecurity and intimate partner violence (IPV) among a racially and ethnically heterogeneous population of women. Findings showed that minority women had higher odds of both food insecurity and IPV when compared to White women. Moreover, a dose-response association was detected, with women reporting food insecurity without hunger having a 2 fold higher odds of IPV and those reporting food insecurity with hunger having a nearly 5-fold higher odds of IPV when compared to women who were food secure.

The second study, using information from the 2001 National Survey of American Life, assessed the association between a history of a potentially traumatic experience and mental distress in the previous 30 days among a population-based sample of African-Americans and Caribbean-born Blacks. I explored the modifying effect of both positive and negative forms of church-based social support on this association. The results indicated a positive association between a history of a potentially traumatic experience and mental distress as well as negative church-based social support and mental distress. A trend (p =.08) was detected when examining the modifying effect of negative church-based support.

The last study examined the association between emotional and physical maltreatment in childhood and past-year alcohol dependence in adulthood in the 1995-1996 National Survey of Midlife Development in the United States (MIDUS). I examined whether this association differed by race/ethnicity and gender. Similar to previous research, I found that minority respondents reporting a race other than Black or White reported the highest prevalence of all forms of childhood maltreatment. The results indicated that men had higher odds of alcohol dependence and physical maltreatment when compared to women. Additionally, higher odds of alcohol dependence were found among men who reported emotional maltreatment in childhood as compared to men who did not experience any emotional maltreatment.

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