After reviewing the findings of three existing studies that encompass the prevalence of intimate partner violence against Native American women, this paper reports the findings of a recent study by the authors that determined lifetime and 1 year prevalence rates of various types of partner-perpetrated violence and injury in a sample of Native American women living in western Oklahoma; this paper focuses on the lifetime prevalence findings.
The study was conducted in two phases. In phase 1, semistructured, in-depth qualitative interviews were conducted with 37 Native American women. Women who had experienced physical or sexual intimate partner violence were compared with those who had no history of such violence. In phase 2, a cross-sectional survey of 431 Native American women assessed lifetime and past-year prevalence of intimate partner violence and related injury and tested etiological hypotheses generated in phase 1. The survey asked separate questions about lifetime and past-year intimate partner violence. The vast majority (85.6 percent) of the women had a relationship with a man in the previous year. All but 3 of the women were enrolled members of 1 of 36 tribes, and most (89 percent) were members of 1 of the 8 tribes located in western or southwestern Oklahoma. Although all of the women were Native American, 32.5 percent of those in current relationships had non-Native partners. Physical or sexual intimate partner violence had been experienced by 82.7 percent of the women in their lifetimes. Two-thirds reported severe physical partner violence, and 25.1 percent reported severe sexual partner violence. More than one-third (35.6 percent) of women who reported severe physical partner violence also reported being threatened or physically forced to have sex with a partner, compared with 4.3 percent of women who reported no severe physical partner violence. As expected, lifetime reports of severe sexual and physical intimate partner violence increased with the participant's age. No significant differences were found in rates of severe partner violence by family poverty level, participant's education, employment status, tribal affiliation, or whether there was a telephone in the home. Injured women reported injuries due to partner violence between 1 and 500 times (median, 6) in their lifetimes. This study concludes that the rates of lifetime intimate partner violence found in this study suggest that at least some Native American women are at increased risk for physical and sexual partner violence. Lifetime rates in the sample are substantially higher than those observed among a nationally representative sample of U.S. women (Tjaden and Thoennes, 2000). Further, the results support the hypothesis that rates of intimate partner violence vary substantially among different populations of Native American women. Further research is required to determine rates of intimate partner violence among other populations of Native American women. In addition, longitudinal or life history studies are needed to determine intimate partner violence among Native American women throughout their life course. Implications of these findings are also discussed for practitioners. 4 exhibits and 24 references