Date of Conferral





Human Services


Garth den Heyer


Intimate partner violence (IPV) is a widespread public health problem in the United States (U.S.) linked to physical, mental, emotional, and psychological problems for women who experience it. Previous researchers indicated that African American (AA) women in the U.S. experience more severe effects from IPV than women in other ethnic groups in the U.S. The purpose of this transcendental phenomenological study was to identify and report AA women’s lived experiences of using spirituality to cope with IPV who were not actively engaged in organized religious practices during the time of the abuse. Semi-structured audiotaped phone and face-to-face interviews were used to collect data from 12 AA women survivors at least 18 years of age located in the northeast area of the U.S. Resilience theory was used as the theoretical basis for this study. Subsequent data analysis, thematic hand-coding were employed by Colaizzi’s 7-step method to ensure rigor. The key findings from this study revealed that 10 out of 12 women survivors of IPV considered themselves spiritual leaders in their community. Key themes were connecting to spirituality, religion-a limited manmade set of rules, self-love through spiritual coping, contemplative thinking in unhealthy relationships, ineffective coping strategies, and resilience. This study’s implication for positive social change includes informing researchers and practitioners about the potential use of spirituality as a strategy for coping with IPV, especially among women of African ancestry. Future palpable interventions could be shaped and researchers may use these study results as a base to expand the dissemination of this work that incorporates researcher recommendations.