Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Legacy Department

Applied Sociology

Committee Member

Sarah Winslow, Committee Chair

Committee Member

John M. Coggeshall

Committee Member

Kenneth L. Robinson


Previous intimate partner violence (IPV) research has indicated that many factors potentially influence IPV. These include the attributes of the woman and her personal history, characteristics of her partner or the partnership, dynamics of the family unit, and features of the community or society in which they live. Numerous theories have been advanced to explain why various factors are related to IPV. Separately, these theories fail to explain the breadth of factors associated with IPV. Ecological theories, however, posit that factors at various levels of a social ecology interact with one another to contribute to an observed phenomenon. Due to their ability to consider multiple levels of the social ecology, ecological theories have been used to synthesize seemingly disparate theories and research about the causes and correlates of IPV. This thesis analyzes qualitative data collected from service providers in Marlboro County, South Carolina during the Pee Dee Region Domestic Violence Community Needs Assessment and quantitative data collected from currently-partnered women in the United States during the National Violence Against Women Survey. Ecological models of IPV in each area are constructed and compared in order to understand the individual, family, and community factors that impact IPV and how these factors interact with one another. Potential benefits of qualitative approaches, which have typically not been used to build ecological models of IPV, are explored. Results indicate that factors at all ecological levels, including a woman or her partner’s childhood experiences with abuse, substance abuse by the woman and/or her partner, the socioeconomic status of the couple, the presence of children, and various community factors, were related to IPV. Each analysis identified interactions among factors at various levels of the social ecology, which provides support for Bronfenbrenner’s (1977) conception of the mesosystem. The qualitative analysis based on service providers’ experiences with IPV in their community was particularly well-suited to explain how various factors were related to one another (i.e., the mesosystem), and it guided the quantitative research. Together, the qualitative and quantitative analyses of IPV in this thesis provide inductive and deductive support for ecological understandings of IPV. Notable policy implications are discussed.



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