Publication Date



Open access

Embargo Period


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PHD)


Educational and Psychological Studies (Education)

Date of Defense


First Committee Member

Etiony Aldarondo

Second Committee Member

Scotney Evans

Third Committee Member

Rosa Maria Gonzalez-Guarda

Fourth Committee Member

Lydia Buki


Intimate partner violence is an important public health concern affecting millions of mothers and their children each year. Research suggests that Latina women, particularly immigrants, are at risk for victimization, face multiple barriers for help-seeking, and tend to remain in abusive relationships longer than their non-immigrant counterparts. Theoretical models used to explain Latinas’ decisions to stay or leave an abusive relationship fail to capture many nuances and complexities of their experiences. This study relies on grounded theory methodology to construct a model to better understand Latina immigrant mothers’ decision to stay or leave their abusing partners. Interviews with eight Latina immigrant mothers who were victims of intimate partner violence revealed a dynamic set of historical, psychological, and sociocultural forces that influence their decisions. Childhood experiences, family values, and self-perceptions contributed to inconsistent messages that made leaving an abusive relationship difficult. Connections (and disconnections) were identified as pronounced forces that provoked movement towards or away from making a decision. Uncertainty and dissonance is a key factor that was found to halt the process from flowing and impedes a woman from being able to make a decision and action. Implications for research and clinical practice are discussed.


intimate partner violence; Latino; mothers; decision-making