Date of Award

Summer 8-15-2017

Author's School

Graduate School of Arts and Sciences

Author's Department

Social Work

Additional Affiliations

Brown School of Social Work

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Type



Data suggests that over 35% of women in the United States have experienced rape, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner in their lifetime and have reported significant short and long-term impacts, such as post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms and injury (Breiding et al., 2011). Ethnic/minority women are especially vulnerable to IPV with rates ranging from 44% for African American women to 46% for American Indian/Alaska Native women (Breiding et al., 2011).

Although South Asians are some of the most recent immigrants, they are one of the fastest growing ethnic groups in the United States, with a current population of 3.4 million (US Census, 2010). The World Health Organization (2013) estimates that South Asia has the highest regional prevalence of IPV worldwide at approximately 40 percent. Community-based studies conducted in the United States have similarly indicated that South Asian women experience IPV at rates ranging from 40 percent (Mahapatra, 2012; Raj & Silverman, 2002) to 60 percent (Adams, 2000). In contrast, national studies conducted in the United States have found that Asian women have the lowest IPV prevalence rates compared to their White and non-White counterparts (Breiding et al., 2011).

In order for social work practitioners, policy makers, and researchers to effectively attend to the needs of this rapidly growing population in the United States, it is imperative to understand their experiences with violence and service utilization. Due to the fact that most South Asians in the United States are Indian immigrants (US Census, 2010), this dissertation study utilized secondary data from the National Family Health Survey (NFHS-3) from India to understand the landscape of violence and help-seeking among women in India and to provide a contextual basis to understand the experiences of South Asian (immigrant) women in the United States. The knowledge and insight gained from the secondary data analyses were utilized to inform the design, collection, and analyses of primary mixed methods data examining IPV among South Asian women in the United States. Qualitative data comprising of interviews with service providers identified cultural values that perpetuate and sustain IPV among South Asians and barriers and facilitators to service utilization among survivors. Implications for practice, research, and policy are discussed.


English (en)

Chair and Committee

Melissa Shanta . Jonson-Reid Pandey

Committee Members

Jami Ake, Tonya Edmond, Carolyn Lesorogol, Sarah McMahon,


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