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Social Work


Pablo Arriaza


Puerto Rican women experience increased risk of bio-psychosocial challenges due to their ethnicity. This phenomenological study examined Puerto Rican HIV-positive women's perceptions of intimate partner violence (IPV), which consists of physical, sexual, verbal, and psychological abuse. Although HIV-positive status and IPV have been a focus of previous research, specific research examining the phenomenological experiences of HIV-positive Puerto Rican women who experienced IPV has not been studied. The basis of the study was feminist intersectionality theory, which supported the process used to explore and understand the essence of the participants' experiences. Feminist intersectionality theory examines intersecting social systems including gender, ethnicity, and cultural influences in assessing the lived experiences of the participants. Purposive sampling was used to recruit six participants. Data collection consisted of in-depth, audio-recorded interviews, and data were analyzed by transcribing interviews to explore common themes. Some of the themes that evolved from the research findings are traumatic experiences, feelings about the abuse, reaction to the abuse, trust issues, cultural influences, and positive life changes. The results of this research study provided valuable information of the participants' lived experiences. This research may provide domestic violence specialists, health care providers, law enforcement providers, public advocates, and government agencies with explanation and understanding of the unique challenges Puerto Rican women face. This research has the potential to impact social change in improving IPV screening, offering bi-lingual and bi-cultural service providers, and educating individuals in the helping profession of the impact of IPV.

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