Influence of Identity on Domestic Violence Response: A Study of Black Muslim Women

2017-10-27T00:00:00Z (GMT) by Olubunmi B Oyewuwo-Gassikia
The purpose of this study was to examine the relationship between race, gender, religion, and the domestic violence coping process, focusing specifically on the experiences of black Muslim women. The study was guided by the overarching question, how does a black Muslim woman’s identity influence how she responds to domestic violence? This question was examined through the investigation of the following sub-questions: 1) how does she experience domestic violence? 2) how does she cope with it? The study was conducted using a qualitative methodology, grounded theory. Intersectionality and coping served as theoretical frameworks. Six black Muslim women survivors of domestic violence (4 African American, 2 West African) were recruited and asked to complete two in-depth, semi-structured interviews and a member check. Findings revealed that participants’ coping strategies included seeking help, saying no, pacifying, and leaving, and their coping processes were shaped by individualized perceptions of what it means to be a “Good Muslim Woman” (GMW). GMW was a contested identity construction that varied in meaning among the women. Participants’ interpretations of being the GMW influenced their understanding and recognition of violence, as well as their responses to violence (which included resisting it). Additionally, GMW was reflective of sociocultural and structural influences; GMW was shaped by gender socialization, and this socialization was shaped by religious and cultural teachings as well as structural concerns of racism, sexism, Islamophobia, and their intersection. Implications for social work research and education, policy, and community are discussed.