Qualitative study: Understanding Mexican American women's experience in intimate partner violence

Nora Montalvo-Liendo, The University of Texas School of Nursing at Houston


The purpose of this qualitative study was to gain an understanding of the experiences of Mexican American women living with intimate partner abuse relevant to the process of disclosure of abuse. Limited research exists on the experiences of women who are of Mexican descent living with intimate partner abuse and their disclosure of abuse. Factors that influence disclosure for other populations are well articulated in the literature however, these factors have not been adequately verified in persons of Mexican descent. Data are reported from in-depth interviews with 26 clients at a shelter and an outreach agency in a south Texas-Mexico border community. Semi-structured interview guide was used to elicit information over an 11 month period. A grounded theory ethnography approach was used to analyze data. Verification strategies and constant comparison techniques (e.g. investigator responsiveness, methodological coherence, sampling adequacy, an active analytic stance, and saturation) enhanced rigor of analysis. Nineteen Mexican immigrant women and seven Mexican American women participated in the study. Several themes were discerned related to women's experiences in abuse: painful living, questioning endurance, and confronting reality. In almost every participant's account there was a description of repeated victimization by her intimate partner or partners, and again, by others within and outside her network. The participants discussed several cultural factors (e.g. embarrassment, concerns for family, avoidance of causing pain to family, protection of partner, avoidance of being judged) that hindered their decisions whether or not to disclose. Participants noted that healthcare workers rarely asked probing questions regarding abuse. The timing and process of disclosure took many turns for women in this study. Some of the factors hindering women from disclosing were found to be influenced by cultural practices. The consequences of disclosure for many of the women led them to re-victimization. Implications for practice to avoid missed opportunities with women living in abuse are to: ask questions routinely to encourage disclosure of abuse and offer community resource information for women living in abuse or both.

Subject Area

Nursing|Public health|Hispanic American studies

Recommended Citation

Montalvo-Liendo, Nora, "Qualitative study: Understanding Mexican American women's experience in intimate partner violence" (2009). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI3351901.