MIGRATION, HEALTH, AND INTIMATE PARTNER VIOLENCE IN THE US AND MEXICO: A BINATIONAL STUDY
Avellaneda Rodriguez, Flor
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Intimate partner violence (IPV) is a significant public health issue affecting women worldwide. Although women from all backgrounds experience IPV, Mexican migrant women have a higher predisposition to IPV when compared to non-Latina White women. As one of the fastest growing minority groups in the U.S., it is critically important to better understand the dynamics of IPV among Latina women, especially the impact on physical and mental health. Moreover, exploring these phenomena in women who migrate, either internally or transnationally, can add to our knowledge and help us develop effective prevention and intervention approaches. The purpose of this binational dissertation was to explore the relationship between IPV and health among Mexican internal migrant women in Mexico and Latina women (U.S. born & foreign-born) in Southeast Texas. The three articles that comprise this dissertation are 1) a cross-sectional survey design to examine the relationship between IPV and health among Mexican internal migrant women in Mexico City, Mexico; 2) a secondary data analysis of a subset of Latina women, using data from an ongoing study on teen dating violence and risk factors in Southeast Texas, to examine the relationship between IPV and health; and 3) a qualitative study to explore the cultural, social, and political perspectives of Mexican migrant women in Mexico City about IPV and health. Participants in study one reported high levels of experiences of IPV victimization. They also reported experiencing high levels of anxiety and depressive symptomatology, even above national rates for the U.S. and Mexico, as well as multiple unhealthy days that prevented them from functioning in the prior month. More than half (59%) of the women in study 2 scored above the cutoff scores on the anxiety screener, and 12.5% on the depression screener, indicating a high probability of meeting criteria for an anxiety or depressive disorder. These rates exceed lifetime prevalence rates for anxiety and depression in the U.S. Participants also reported high levels of experiences of IPV victimization, although the percentage of women endorsing each type of victimization was lower for the women in the U.S. than for those in Mexico City. Study three allowed us to attain a more nuanced understanding about the cultural, social, and political factors that worsen Mexican women’s experiences with violence. Women not only shared their lived experiences on IPV and other forms of violence, but also their experiences with the reactions of friends, family, law enforcement, and society more broadly. Some key findings included the fear of disclosing abuse due to possible repercussions from perpetrators and authority figures, and society’s further victimization of women who experience IPV through ignoring, dismissing, blaming, or stigmatizing their experiences. Women also demanded justice to end IPV and the high rates of female homicides in Mexico due to partner violence. Results indicated that women who experience IPV have, both in the U.S. and Mexico, experienced higher symptomatology of anxiety and depression. Moreover, our qualitative findings indicated the urgent need for an end to the cycle of violence against women in Mexico. Understanding how migration may affect the health of migrant women, in both contexts (Mexico and the U.S.), can inform best practices, research, and policies that can help women break the cycle of violence.