Disentangling Indigenous Women’s Experiences with Intimate Partner Violence in the United States


By bhadmin February 2, 2021

Although violence against Indigenous women is a global human rights and social justice issue, it must be examined within the local context. This article focuses on Indigenous women’s experiences with intimate partner violence (IPV). These women reside in an Indigenous community in the United States that is traditionally matrilineal. The article explores how the power and status of women have been constrained to the extent that many women now experience epidemic rates of IPV. Through the use of the theoretical framework of Paulo Freire, this critical ethnography examined how IPV is situated within a broader context of historical oppression, filling a gap in the literature with respect to understanding Indigenous women’s experiences of IPV in the United States by understanding IPV from the voices of women themselves and connecting IPV experiences to a framework of historical oppression. As part of a critical ethnography, reconstructive analysis of 29 life history interviews with Indigenous women revealed an intergenerational cycle of violence, dehumanizing tactics, and women breaking free from violent relationships. The importance of social work practitioners and researchers examining the challenges experienced by Indigenous peoples within the broader historical context of historical oppression, as well as implementing policies that enable greater self-determination for Indigenous peoples are highlighted.

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