Asian American College Women’s In-the-Moment Responses to a Dating Violence Situation

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According to U.S. population-based surveys, up to 20% of Asian American women report experiencing partner violence (PV) in their lifetime. Approximately 57% of Asian American college students report psychological abuse by a partner and 15% report sexual victimization, suggesting that PV is a significant public health problem. To understand Asian American college women’s thought processes, behavioral intentions, and risk perception during specific relationship violence situations, the present study explored Asian American college women’s (N = 299) in-the-moment responses to an increasingly threatening PV scenario. During 4 break points in the scenario, women responded to 3 questions regarding their view of the perpetrator, their behavioral intentions about what they would do next if they were in that situation, and their attributions for the perpetrator’s aggressive behavior. Results indicated that most women attributed the perpetrator’s violence to his character and held negative views of him. However, a substantial minority of women maintained positive views of the perpetrator and attributed his violence to situational factors or the victim’s own behaviors. Furthermore, women cited 3 likely responses to the scenario: soothing the perpetrator, escaping the situation, and fighting with the perpetrator. Women’s responses changed as the level of violence in the PV scenario became more severe, suggesting that women’s responses during a PV situation are complex and vary across contexts. Finally, most women did not report any intentions to end the relationship or seek help, suggesting that Asian American college women may be particularly at risk for PV victimization and negative consequences.

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