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Social Work professor presents research findings on intimate partner violence


The numbers of women – particularly minority women - who are battered, abused or witness abuse in their lifetimes is staggering, according to a University of Texas at Arlington researcher.

Among African-Americans, four of 10 women experience domestic abuse over the course of their lives, says Maxine Davis, an assistant professor at the UTA School of Social Work.

“It’s real,” says Dr. Davis, citing the statistics from the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey.

“We’re not No. 1,” she says of African-American females. “We’re the third highest.”

More than half of multi-racial women, 53.8 percent, and about 46 percent of Native-American women also experience battering themselves or have witnessed abuse, she says.

By comparison, about 30 percent of white women have encountered some form of intimate partner abuse, according to Dr. Davis.

“Violence against women is a global public health issue,” she says. “There is so much opportunity for change.”

Dr. Davis researches intimate partner violence and the responses of faith communities to both batterers and survivors

She was among several scholars who presented research this month during the seventh annual Center for African American Studies’ “Black Bodies: Health and Wellness” conference. The half-day conference was held Feb. 15 in the E.H. Hereford University Center at the University of Texas at Arlington.

Jason Shelton, who heads UTA’s Center for African American Studies and organized the 2019 conference, says he chose to discuss topics - such as intimate partner violence - at this year’s event because they historically are not widely considered among African-Americans in highly-visible public settings.

 “I think it’s very painful to talk about,” Dr. Shelton acknowledges of the topics which, sometimes, are perceived as less important or as embarrassing among blacks. “We are so concerned with paying the bills, the luxury of thinking about health-related benefits is a privilege.”

The data on intimate partner violence is part of research Dr. Davis conducted for a doctoral dissertation. The full research report “The Intersection of Intimate Partner Violence Perpetration, Intervention and Faith,” will be publicly released in late April by Washington University in St. Louis. Mo.

In Social Work, Dr. Davis says the definition of domestic abuse – as with the name – is changing.

Intimate partner violence now goes beyond hitting, beating or raping a spouse or partner, she contends.

“Historically, it’s been physical or sexual or rape, but intimate partner abuse is emotional, psychological, economic or religious,” she says.

The expansion of what behaviors constitutes domestic abuse may account for greater reporting of the abuse. “The definition has expanded. So, we may see greater prevalence.”





News Topics: Faculty, General