Exploring the Strengths, Resiliencies, and Challenges of Lesbian and Bisexual Females Who Experienced Dating Violence in a Same-Sex Relationship during Adolescence

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Exploring the Strengths, Resiliencies, and Challenges of Lesbian and Bisexual Females Who Experienced Dating Violence in a Same-Sex Relationship during Adolescence
Henesy, Rachel K
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[Gainesville, Fla.]
University of Florida
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1 online resource (74 p.)

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Master's ( M.A.E.)
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University of Florida
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Mental Health Counseling
Human Development and Organizational Studies in Education
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Subjects / Keywords:
Adolescence ( jstor )
Adolescents ( jstor )
Bisexuality ( jstor )
Female homosexuality ( jstor )
LGBT ( jstor )
Parents ( jstor )
Psychological counseling ( jstor )
School counseling ( jstor )
Violence ( jstor )
Women ( jstor )
Human Development and Organizational Studies in Education -- Dissertations, Academic -- UF
adolescent -- counseling -- dating -- lgbtq -- phenomenological -- violence
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born-digital ( sobekcm )
Mental Health Counseling thesis, M.A.E.


OBJECTIVE: The objective of this research study was to explore the strengths and resiliencies that helped lesbian and bisexual females overcome the negative experience of adolescent dating violence, and to inform further studies on LGB affirmative counseling and counseling survivors of dating violence. RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS: The study was designed using a qualitative, phenomenological approach. Individual interviews were held in which participants were asked open-ended questions related to their past experiences. The audio-recorded interviews were transcribed and the data was analyzed for significant statements and themes. RESULTS: Six themes emerged from the data; five were related to strengths and resiliency factors and the sixth theme was related to challenges to accessing resources. The themes found were a) goals, b) support/trust, c) validation/relating to others, d) self as priority/boundaries, e) values, and f) lack of cultural competence/marginalization. ( en )
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Includes vita.
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Thesis (M.A.E.)--University of Florida, 2014.
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by Rachel K Henesy.

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2014 Rachel Henesy


This th esis is dedicated t o those who have shared and will share their stories to make projects like this possible, and to everyone working for equality, social justice, and human rights.


4 ACKNOWLEDGMENTS I would like to thank my committee members, Dr. Jacqueline Swank, Dr. Edil Torres Rivera, and Dr. Cirecie West Olatunji, for their guidance, support, and mentorship throughout this process. They offered me the knowledge and encour agement needed to complete this project. I also would like to thank the individuals who work for various campus and community resources for offering their wisdom and insight during the participant recruitment process. Thank you to LB for all of your help a nd for all you do for the community. I would like to thank my closest friends who supported and enco uraged me, Alisha, Melanie, Nat h aniel, Becky, and Jillian, and my siblings, Charity, Sara, Alex and Shelby. Finally, my sincerest thanks go to the particip ants of this study, who trusted me with their stories and believed in the importance of this project. Thank you for the strength and wisdom you shared.


5 TABLE OF CONTENTS page ACKNOWLEDGMENTS ................................ ................................ ................................ .. 4 ABSTRACT ................................ ................................ ................................ ..................... 7 CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION ................................ ................................ ................................ ...... 8 Overvi ew ................................ ................................ ................................ ................... 8 Literature Review ................................ ................................ ................................ ...... 9 Adolescent Development ................................ ................................ .................. 10 Parent al Influences ................................ ................................ ........................... 12 Peer Influences ................................ ................................ ................................ 17 Societal Influence ................................ ................................ ............................. 20 Multicultural Aspects ................................ ................................ ........................ 21 2 METH ODS ................................ ................................ ................................ .............. 28 Research Design ................................ ................................ ................................ .... 28 Participants ................................ ................................ ................................ ............. 28 Instrumentation ................................ ................................ ................................ ....... 29 Procedures ................................ ................................ ................................ ............. 30 Data Analysis ................................ ................................ ................................ .......... 32 Researcher ................................ ................................ ................................ ............. 32 Verification Procedure ................................ ................................ ............................. 32 3 RESULTS ................................ ................................ ................................ ............... 34 Goals ................................ ................................ ................................ ...................... 34 Support/Trust ................................ ................................ ................................ .......... 35 Validation/Relating to Others ................................ ................................ .................. 3 8 Self as a Priority/Boundaries ................................ ................................ ................... 38 Values ................................ ................................ ................................ ..................... 39 Lack of Cultural Competence/Marginalization ................................ ......................... 41 4 DISCUSSION ................................ ................................ ................................ ......... 43 Implications ................................ ................................ ................................ ............. 47 Limitations of the Study ................................ ................................ ........................... 48 Recommendations for Future Research ................................ ................................ 48 Conclusion ................................ ................................ ................................ .............. 49


6 APPENDIX A INFO RMED CONSENT ................................ ................................ .......................... 51 B SCREENING QUESTIONS ................................ ................................ .................... 55 C INTERVIEW QUESTIONS ................................ ................................ ...................... 57 D DEMO GRAPHIC QUESTIONNAIRE ................................ ................................ ...... 60 E IRB 02 APPROVAL LETTERS ................................ ................................ ............... 62 F RECRUITMENT FLIER ................................ ................................ ........................... 66 G RECRUITMENT EMAIL ................................ ................................ .......................... 68 LIST OF REFERENCES ................................ ................................ ............................... 70 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH ................................ ................................ ............................ 74


7 Abstract of Thesis Presented to the Graduate School of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Master of Arts EXPLORING THE STRENGTHS, RESILIENCIES, AND CHALLENGES OF LESBIA N AND BISEXUAL FEMALE S WHO EXPERIENCED DATING VIOLENCE IN A SAME SEX RELATIONSHIP DURING ADOLESCENCE By Rachel Henesy May 2014 Chair: Jacqueline Swank Major: Mental Health Counseling OBJECTIVE: The objective of this research study was to explore the strengths and resiliencies that helped lesbian and bisexual females overcome the negative experience of adolescent dating violence, and to inform further studies on LGB affirmative counseling and cou nseling survivors of dating violence. RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS: The study was designed using a qualitative, phenomenological approach. Individual interviews were held in which participants were asked open ended questions related to their past experience s. The audio recorded interviews were transcribed and the data was analyzed for significant statements and themes. RESULTS: Six themes emerged from the data; five were related to strengths and resiliency factors and the sixth theme was related to challenge s to accessing resources. The themes found were a) goals, b) support/trust, c) validation/relating to others, d) self as priority/boundaries, e) values, and f) lack of cultural competence/marginalization.


8 CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION Overview The Association for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Issues in C ounseling endorsed competencies for counselors to provide counseling that is not simply tolerant of differences but accepting and affirmative of lesbian, gay, bisexual, queer, intersex, and questioning (LGBQIQ) people and their relationships (Harper et al., 2012). Within these competencies are comprehensive guidelines for training, practice, advocacy, and research that is LGBQIQ affirmative. Following these guidelines, the dating violence through an affirmative and strengths based lens, focusing on the strengths and resiliencies tha t helped these females to overcome their experiences of dating violence. Additionally, this researcher explored the challenges experienced by the participants while they attempt ed to access resources, particularly in regard to systemic racial and heterosex ual privilege. Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) seems to occur in same sex/same gender relationships at rates similar to those found in opposite sex relationships ( Stevens, Korchmaros, & Miller, 2010) Additionally, research suggests that LGBT people utilize counseling at twice the rate of heterosexual people (Singh & Shelton, 2011) However, li mited research exists on the strengths and resiliencies of this population when coping with IPV or dating violence (DV). It i s for this reason that the researcher chose to explore the phenomenon of resiliencies and support seeking through a qualitative, phenomenological study. A qualitative phenomenological approach provides an opportunity for the research to gather information about the


9 experiences, which is then analyzed to extract the common themes, or essence. The researcher believes that this approach is in line with an affirmative, strengths based approach because it allows the participants the opportu nit y to reflect on their strengths and resiliencies in regards to themselves and their families, peers, culture, and communit y Exploring the essence of what was helpful (or not helpful) for adolescent females overcoming the negative impact of dating viole nce may influence future counseling practice in working with this population while also identifying areas for future research. Literature Review Dating violence (DV) is encompassed within the category of intimate partner violence (IPV), which is a publi c health concern that may affect as many as 4.8 million women in the United States each ye ar (Stevens et al. 2010). I PV is defined as violence within a romantic relationship, which may include physical, sexual, or emotional/psychological violence (Draucke r & Martsolf, 2010; Raiford, Wingood, & DiClemente, 2007; Stephenson, Martsolf, Draucker, 2011). This issue is crucial to professional counselors because of the wide range of negative outcomes associated with DV, including depression, substance abuse, and suicidal ideation (Stephenson et al., 2011). Researchers have identified several risk factors associated with dating violence, including past experiences of DV or IPV, exposure to interparental violence during childhood, depression, delinquency, and subst ance abuse (Akers, Yonas, Burke, & Chang, 2011; Draucker & Martsolf, 2010; Stephenson, et al. 2011; Steve ns et al. 2010 ) When DV occurs in adolescence, the effects may be more significant because of the enhanced vulnerability associated with that devel opmental stage. Adolescent dating violence (ADV) is important in terms of both its present and future effects. The focus of


10 this literature review is female adolescents and DV, with an e mphasis on its relationship to adolescent development, family dynamics and multicultural issues. This includes an explor ation of theories regarding both victimization and perpetration. Adolescent Development Adolescence is a unique stage of development estimated to range from as early as age 11 to as late as age 24. It is divided into three categories: (a) early adolescence (11 13), (b) middle adolescence (14 18), and (c) late adolescence (19 24) (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, n.d.). During this developmental period, adolescents cope with the physical challe nges of puberty, cognitive and emotional changes, and changing social roles and expectations T herefore, adolescents are at an increased risk for psychological distress (Dixon, Scheidegger, & McWhirter, 2009). Additionally, psychological, emotional, and be havioral problems might be especially detrimental during this stage of life because of changes in societal expectations, the increase of intimacy in peer relationships, and the process of identity formation (Akos & Ellis, 2008). Dixon et al. (2009) stated that as many as one out of five adolescents between the ages of 11 and 14 may have "a mental, behavioral, or emotional problem", and as many as 1 in 10 have a "serious emotional problem"(p. 302), yet intervention only takes place in approximately 30% of th ese cases. Identity development is the "foremost task" of adolescence (Dixon, Scheidegger, and McWhirter, 2009, p. 303). Parents, peers, non parental adults (i.e., mentors and teachers), and the community interact to influence the different elements of i dentity development, including emotional regulation, conflict resolution, self concept, self representation, vocational exploration, explorations in commitment making, and a sense of belonging or mattering (Akos & Ellis, 2008; Beyers & Goosens, 2008; Dixo n et al.,


11 2009). On a cognitive level, adolescents are also developing advanced decision making skills, moral reasoning, critical thinking skills, and an awareness of racism, discrimination, and inequality (Akos & Ellis, 2008). All of these changes can mak e adolescence a chaotic and confusing time, and events that occur during adolescence can have a lifelong effect because of the impact on identity development. Romantic relationships in adolescence might be especially important to adolescent development b ecause they serve as "training" relationships in which adolescents explore their roles and identities in intimate relationships (Lichter & McCloskey, 2004). Lichter and McCloskey (2004) posited that female adolescents may be prone to forgiving bad behavior from a partner because of the idealized romanticism present in this stage of life. The researchers also stated that teen dating relationships could contribute to the development of gender role identity, self esteem, social competence, and interpersonal sk ills, such as empathy and intimacy. Draucker and Martsolf (2010) listed development of intimacy and sexuality as one of the key tasks of adolescence. It may be because of the crystallization of identity during this period that dating violence victimizatio n during adolescence is one of the main predictive factors for dating violence in adulthood. Dating violence victimization of female adolescents has been associated with depression, substance use, antisocial behaviors, delinquent behaviors, academic strug gles, a higher than average number of sexual partners, exposure to violence or neglect at home or in the community, past victimizations, suicidal ideation, and suicidal behaviors, though the direction of these relationships still remains unclear (Raiford e t al. 2007; Spriggs, Halpern, Herring & Schoenbach, 2009; Tyler, Brownridge &


12 Melander, 2011). For counselors to develop appropriate prevention and intervention strategies targeting negative mental health outcomes, it is important to understand the intera ctive nature of these elements, as well as the direct and indirect relationships. Since there is no one size fits all explanation for why adolescent dating violence occurs, it is also important to examine the positive influences that may act as resiliency or protective factors. Parental Influences There are many theories that have been used as a framework for understanding and researching adolescent dating violence, including theories of intergenerational transmission of risk (cycle of violence), social co gnitive/learning theory, antisocial orientation, a developmental ecological model of risk and development, and the theory of gender and power (Boivin, Lavoie, Hebert, & Gagne, 2011; Lichter & McCloskey, 2004; Miller, Gorman Smith, Sullivan, O rpinas, & Simo n, 2009; Raiford et al. 200 7; Tyler, et al. 2011). Tyler et al. (2011) used a combination of social learning theory and antisocial orientation theory to examine how the effects of poor parenting are related to both perpetration and victimization of dating violence in adolescence. Both of these theories fall under the umbrella of intergenerational transmission, but the former suggests a direct relationship and the latter suggests an indirect relationship. Based on social learning theory, the research ers posited that victims of childhood violence may internalize a rationalization for violence that puts them at risk for becoming victims of violence again. They also suggested that, based on antisocial orientation theory, youth who are exposed to poor par enting, such as abuse and low levels of support, are at a higher risk for dating violence through en gaging in antisocial behaviors such as delinquency and substance abus e (Tyler et al. 2011).


13 A social cognitive framework was utilized by Lichter and McClos key (2004) to study the effects of childhood exposure to marital violence and dating violence in adolescence. They reported that exposure to marital violence as a child would result in gender based beliefs about roles in families, work, and dating relation ships. These roles place women in a subordinate role and may put them at risk for violence from their male partners. They posited that these gender based beliefs may be at their strongest during adolescence because of increased attention paid to gender rel ated expectations. In accordance with the social cognitive framework, it would be expected that female adolescents exposed to interparental violence would be at a much higher risk for dating violence victimization. Lichter and McCloskey's research demonstr ated that exposure to marital violence was associated with attitudes that condoned or justified violence against women as an acceptable form of conflict resolution in both male and female adolescents. This research might suggest an indirect link exists bet ween exposure to marital violence and adolescent dating violence, rather than a direct link such as modeling witnessed behavior. The indirect link, a tenet of the antisocial framework, was studied by examining the interaction of parental behaviors and pee rs. According to this theory, violent parental behaviors are associated with the likelihood of the adolescent having friends that are delinquent or abuse drugs or alcohol. An indirect link between exposure to violence as a child and dating violence in adol escence may be supported by Miller, Gorman Smith, Sullivan, Orpinas, and Simon (2009). Miller and colleagues (2009) examined the effects of both parents and peers on physical dating violence perpetration in adolescence, focusing on the early stage of adole scence since previous research suggested that


14 adolescents who begin dating earlier have higher rates of antisocial behavior ( N = 2,824). The female participants whose parents supported non aggressive solutions to conflict reported less physical dating viol ence, in contrast to the girls who had deviant friends and parents that did not support non aggressive problem solving, who were the most likely to report perpetrating physical dating violence. Since females who were exposed to interparental violence were at a higher risk for dating violence perpetration in these cases, theories that suggest violence occurs due to traditional gender based beliefs and internalized rationalization for victimization in females are put into question. An antisocial framework mig ht indicate that parental support for pro social behaviors, such as non aggressive means for solving conflict, may act as a protective factor against antisocial friends and perpetration of violence. Tyler and colleagues (2011) integrated social cognitive theory and antisocial orientation theory to examine the effects of child maltreatment on dating violence perpetration and victimization in adolescents ( N = 900). Low parental warmth and child abuse were both associated with higher levels of substance abuse and delinquency. Adolescents of both genders who experienced neglect, low parental warmth, or engaged in delinquent behaviors were more likely to perpetrate dating violence. Adolescents who experienced low parental warmth, physical abuse from parents, or engaged in delinquent behaviors were more likely to be victims of dating violence. Since child abuse was related to victimization, this may suggest an internalized rationalization for violence against the self rather than against a specific gender. F emales were more likely to report perpetrating dating violence against a partner. Since females often report both perpetration and victimization, future studies might investigate cycles of violence


15 within dating relationships in which both partners are violent, as well as the variable of physical violence as self defense. The study by Tyler et al. supported both of the theories utilized, which might indicate that childhood maltreatment is directly linked to adolescent dating violence through modeling of parental behaviors and internalized rationalizations, and indirectly linked through antisocial behaviors (i. e., substance abuse and delinquency ) Researchers found that exposure to family violence was a predictive factor for dating violence in Black adolescents but not for White adolescents, and there were also intragroup differences based on family structure and the mothers' educational level (Foshee, Ennett, Bauman, Benefield, and Suchindran 2005) For example, corporal punishment was predictive of dating viol ence perpetration by Black adolescents that lived in two parent households, but not for those who lived in one parent households. They also found that witnessing violence between parents was a predictive factor for dating violence perpetration in Black ad olescents that lived in a one parent household, but not for those that lived in a two parent household. Corporal punishment by a mother with a low level of education was a predictive factor for dating violence in Black adolescents, but it was a protective factor if the mother had a high level of education. Foshee et al. (2005) stress ed the importance of researching the developmental processes of minority children and adolescents, as well as intragroup variation, but the results of their study also highligh t the complexity of the interaction between variables that predict or protect against adolescent dating violence. Differences found between cultures and within cultures might be attributed to contextual and environmental variables such as community violenc e, access to resources, and community standards.


16 Based on a cultural meaning framework, these differences might also be attributed to the meanings that adolescents ascribe to parental behaviors. Whereas a social learning perspective might predict that adol escents would see marital violence and corporal punishment as an effective way to control the behavior of another person, cultural meaning theory posits that adolescents may perceive violent parental behaviors as either hostile or loving. Those who perceiv e the violence as hostile may feel rage that is released towards someone who is perceived to be nonthreatening, such as a romantic partner. Adolescents who perceive parental violence as an act of love might not feel anger or rage, and the meanings ascribed might be based on cultural and environmental factors. Acculturation gaps and differing values between parents and their children, to be discussed later, may also play a crucial role in this meaning making process. Although certain parental behaviors may b e risk factors for adolescent DV, parental influence could also act as a protective factor against other environmental risks. Parental and familial support, conceptualized as behaviors that foster a sense of mattering and belonging through communication, r eciprocity, responsiveness, and warmth, can protect against risk factors for adolescent DV because of the significant influence on the formation of relationships with "proso cial" peers (Coker & Borders, 2001). Parental monitoring may also moderate the infl uence of deviant peers on substance use, and parental support for non aggressive solutions was negatively associated with dating violence among females (Miller et al. 2009). Parents may express their desire to keep their daughters safe from physical and s exual violence through discussions about healthy relationships (Akers et al. 2011). In exploring


17 African American families ( N = 125 individuals, 52 fami lies), Akers and colleagues found that many parents reported using examples from their families, commu nities, or the media to educate their children on the differences between healthy and unhealthy relationships. Although the study focused on the content and not the effectiveness of the parent's involvement, high parental warmth, parental attitudes favorin g nonviolent conflict resolution, and the adolescent's sense of mattering may act as protective factors against dating violence. From the standpoint of an antisocial orientation model, these parental behaviors may act as a protective factor for dating viol ence by protecting adolescents from other risk factors (i. e., substance abuse and delinquency ) For American Indian adolescents, family influence has been demonstrated as the most prominent predictive factor of substance use, but it is also a significant protective factor (Hurdle, Okamoto, & Miles, 2003). For this population, family is conceptualized as immediate family and extended family because extended family members may take on parental roles, and all members of a clan or kinship system may participa te in child rearing in some tribes. Witnessing adult relatives using substances or being directly encouraged to use substances by adult relatives was strongly linked to substance use by female adolescents. Interestingly, the researchers noted the pronounce d effect of cousins on adolescent substance use in American Indian adolescents, as they are members of both the family and the peer group. Peer Influences Antisocial orientation theory might suggest that adolescents who have been victims of parental abuse or neglect may still be protected from dating violence through other factors that protect against delinquency and substance use. These protective factors may be growth fostering relationships with non parental adults and pro social


18 peers, a positive schoo l climate, or access to extracurricular activities at school and in the community (Coker & Borders, 2001; Liang, Tracy, Kenny, Brogan, & Gatha, 2010). Liang et al. (2010) used a relational cultural model to develop an assessment called the Relational Healt h Indices for Youth, and the theory posits that there is a strong relationship between growth fostering relationships and psychological well being. Growth fostering relationships are defined as those that involve mutual engagement, authenticity, empowermen t, and the ability to deal with conflict. Liang and colleagues found that growth fostering relationships with peers were significantly associated with higher self esteem and lower levels of depression ( N = 188). Growth fostering relationships with mentors were associated with lower levels of stress. These types of growth fostering relationships may act as protective factors against the intergenerational transmission of risk by increasing self esteem, teaching non aggressive types of conflict resolution, and reducing anxiety and depression. Relationships with peers play an important socializing role for adolescents and norms for behavior are set within a peer social context. Relationships between genders increase, and teens may feel emotionally closer to the ir peers than to their families. Adolescents also become more aware of their social and romantic identities. Possibly because peer groups set standards for acceptable behavior, self reported dating violence by adolescents between the ages of 14 and 20 is a ssociated with the number of friends who engage in dating violence and the frequency of that behavior (Miller et al. 2009). An emerging variable in adolescent socialization and relationships is that of electronic aggression (EA). As of 2006, 93% of adol escents between the ages of 12 and


19 17 had i nternet access, and 71% owned cellular phones. (Draucker & Martsolf, 2010). Electronic media offer adolescents new outlets for practicing self representation and self disclosure. It can also create a larger socia l network, as well as depersonalizing communication and offering a sense of anonymity that may increase sexist, racist, homophobic, and aggressive behaviors. EA includes harassment, bullying, starting rumors, verbal or emotional abuse, and making threats. EA increased by 50% between 2000 and 2005, and it is associated with negative psychological and social outcomes including academic problems, depression, anxiety, interpersonal victimization, and EA perpetration against others (Draucker & Martsolf, 2010). I n adolescent romantic relationships, electronic communication devices can be used to perpetuate dating violence through manipulative, controlling, or stalking behaviors and verbal and emotional abuse. Electronic communication devices might also be used to perpetuate the type of violent event labeled by Stephenson, Martsolf, and Draucker (2011) as Rejecting/Ignoring/Disrespecting. As a way to inflict emotional abuse, an adolescent may ignore their partner by turning their phone off or refusing to answer call s as a form of punishment. An abusive partner also might give their partner the silent treatment by ignoring them on social networking sites, but continuing to publicly communicate with other members of their peer group. Additional research is needed to de termine the relationship between EA and other types of adolescent dating violence and whether it differs by gender. Proximal antecedents were identified in a study that was conducted to develop a theoretical framework for explaining and predicting adoles c ent DV (Stephenson et al. 2001). The precursors to violent events identified were pulling away, demanding


20 obedience, discovery of involvement with a rival, an attempt to define the relationship, and demonstrating disrespect. These precursors predicted pe rpetration of DV for both genders. Since the five proximal antecedents are all related to power and control, the feelings of insecurity typical in adolescence may be a factor. Foshee et al. (2009) found that perpetration of physical and sexual dating viole nce peak at age 16.3 for both genders and then begin to decline, but it is still unclear why some adolescents continue to perpetrate dating violence in late adolescence or into adulthood. Societal Influence Some gender based frameworks have been used in the study of adolescent dating violence, including the theory of gender and power (Stevens et al. 2010) This theory holds that societal and institutional structures play a role in the occurrence of dating violence. Structures such as division of labor, familial roles, media images, and settings in schools and in the workplace might create an unequal distribution of power between men and women, placing females in a role of greater vulnerability to violence. Since minority groups are also affected by inequities in societal and institutional structures, young adolescent girls of ethnic identity may be at a greater risk for experiencing dating violence victimization, particularly if the male partner is older and has multiple partners because this increases the power differential (Raiford et al. 20 07). According to Raiford and colleagues (2007) some girls may have an inaccurate idea about what qualities encompass a healthy relationship because of social norms an d media images, which might portray a female as having a strong emotional attachment to her male partner and as being accepting of controlling or aggressive behaviors. Exposure to pornographic movies may further perpetuate the gender based belief that fema les should be submissive to men. Since media images of ethnic minority females


21 are often stereotypical and dehumanizing, exposure to pornography may also be more detrimental for adolescent females from an ethnic minority group. Exposure to community viol ence may play a role in adolescent DV as well. McKelvey, Whiteside Mansell, Bradley, Casey, Conners Burrow, and Barrett (2011) found that community violence was associated with depression and anxiety for female adolescents even if they lived in low conflic t homes, although symptomology was higher for females in high conflict homes. McKelvey and colleague s (2011) hypothesized that a positive home environment would act as a protective factor against the negative effects of community violence, but this was not supported by their results. Since internalizing behaviors such as anxiety and depression might be risk factors for dating violence, this suggests a need for early intervention with adolescents exposed to community violence even if parental behaviors are p ositive. Multicultural Aspects Diverse cultural influences add even more complexity to the issues of adolescent development and adolescent DV. Variables such as levels of acculturation, acculturation gaps, family structure, family values, religion, gend er roles, and sexual orientation can all effect the beliefs and behaviors of adolescents. The nuances of the adolescent's experience, as well as the effects of societal and systemic oppression, are critical factors in development. Different cultural aspect s must be examined in order to discuss adolescent DV from a holistic perspective. Smokowski, Rose, and Bacallao (2008) examined how differences in acculturation levels of Latino parents and children can affect family dynamics ( N = 402 families). When a c hild becomes more assimilated to the dominant culture than their parents, the result can be an acculturation gap, and, if the differences in the two


22 cultures cannot be reconciled, the result can be an acculturation conflict. Acculturation conflicts were a risk factor for lower family cohesion, as well as conflict between the parent and the adolescent. Since parental involvement may serve as a protective factor against substance abuse, delinquency, and dating violence, acculturation conflict may be an indire ct risk factor because of its effect on parent adolescent conflict. Qin (2008) also examined the effects of acculturation on family dynamics and adolescent development of Asian American immigrants ( N = 38). She hypothesized that the "achievement/adjustment paradox" (when a student has high levels of academic achievement and low levels of psychological adjustment) would be moderated by the parent child relationship after migration to the U.S. She conducted a qualitative study and found that psychologically d istressed students reported feeling more emotional alienated from their parents than non distressed students. Parents of students who felt distressed were more likely to have maintained their previous parenting practices from before migration to the U.S., which caused acculturation conflicts as their children became more assimilated into the dominant culture. According to Qin, the parents of the non distressed students were more flexible and made adjustments to their parenting practices based on the accultu ration of their children, lowering the risk of acculturation conflict. More open communication and democratic decision making were also apparent in the relationships between parents and non distressed students, which could indicate that reciprocity and a s ense of mattering enhanced the students' well being. This type of open communication and tolerance for differences might also teach the child a non aggressive style of handling conflicts, which may be a protective factor against adolescent DV.


23 Acculturat ion gaps may also affect the meaning that adolescents ascribe to certain parental behaviors. If high levels of parental control or aggressive forms of conflict resolution are considered normative in the culture of origin, adolescents may begin to perceive them as hostile or oppressive as they become assimilated into the dominant culture of their schools and peer groups. This may lead to anger and hostility in the adolescent which could potentially be directed toward a friend or romantic partner. However, if an adolescent perceives a parent's high control or aggressive behaviors as a loving way of eliciting desired behaviors from the child, there is a possibility that she or he may be more accepting of controlling or aggressive behaviors from a partner. Sim ilar to acculturation, religiosity of the family may also act as a protective factor or a risk factor depending upon the level of difference between the parent and child. Pearce and Haynie (2004) studied the effect of religion on adolescent delinquency and found that it acted as a protective factor when the adolescent and parents shared religious beliefs ( N = 10.444). However, religion was a risk factor for delinquency when beliefs conflicted. The researchers posited that religious conflicts often lead to v iolence. Their own research results suggested that delinquency rates were lowest when a mother and adolescent child were both very religious, and the highest rates of delinquency were associated with religious dissimilarity (religious mother with a non rel igious child, or a religious child with a non religious mother). In general, s imilarity in religious beliefs were associated with lower delinquency, even if parents and the child were both non religious. This has implications for adolescent DV since delinq uency is thought to be a risk factor for both victimization and perpetration. Adolescents with similar religious beliefs to their parents might feel more comfortable with a higher level


24 of parental involvement in their lives compared to those who differ, a nd sharing religious beliefs could also contribute to a stronger sense of belonging. Although little research has been done on adolescent DV in same sex relationships, prevalence rates are expected to be similar to those found in opposite sex relationshi ps. Researchers suggest that men and women are expected to engage in different behaviors based on social norms regarding gender, and that self reports of intimate partner violence would be biased in accordance with these norm s (Stevens et al. 2010). Steve ns and colleagues suggested that to understand IPV in same sex relationships, theories should be developed that explore power differentials in relationships that exist regardless of gender. They posited that women would be less likely to report physical ag gression against a partner and more likely to report verbal abuse towards a partner, which could be more socially acceptable for a woman because it aligns with the stereotype of the female as the nurturer and protector of the relationship. Verbal abuse can be seen as a sign of an emotional commitment to the relationship. Stevens et al. (2010) found that IPV prevalence rates among women did not vary based on sexual orientation, and the prevalence rates for specific behaviors were mostly similar whether the w omen had a fe male partner or a male partner. There is limited research on adolescent dating violence within the LGBTQIQ population, despite the critical importance for counselors. Davis, Williamson, and Lambie (2008) reported that LGBT adolescents are the largest minority group within many schools, and that LGBT adolescents face even more negative issues than adults within the LGBT community. Moreover, LGBT adolescents are more likely to attempt suicide, commit suicide, be victimized by bullying, skip scho ol because of fears about


25 their safety, experience depression, and experience substance abuse compared to their heterosexual peers (Davis et al., 2008; Craig, 2013). Additionally, LGBT adolescents have a higher risk of academic difficulties, homelessness, running away, social isolation, sexually transmitted diseases, and interpersonal difficulties with peers (Davis et al., 2008; Craig, 2013). However, Davis et al. (2008) stressed the importance of recognizing that most LGBT adolescents become healthy adults despite these experiences and risks. Though not all LGBT adolescents will experience these challenges, several of the risk factors mentioned above (past victimization, depression, substance abuse) have been associated with adolescent dating violence. Furt hermore, dating violence victimization may compound the effects of the negative stressors that LGBT adolescents already experience (Akers et al. 2010; Stephenson et al., 2011; Stevens et al., 2010 ). Craig (2013) explored the challenges of LGBT adolescent s through a minority stress theory, suggesting that experiences of discrimination lead to increased risks, and that this may be compounded for LGBT adolescents of color who experience racism and ethnic discrimination. According to this model, the adolescen conflict with the expectations of society, and the resulting stress puts the adolescent at risk for mental health issues such as depression, and LGBT adolescents of color may experience this conflict and stress from multiple differe nt sources (Craig, 2013). Craig provided a theoretical framework for a strengths based affirmative approach for working with LGBT adolescents with dual or multiple minority statuses in a school based e, an affirmative stance, and a focus on the strengths and resiliencies of adolescents, their communities, and their


26 cultures that may foster empowerment and lower the risk for negative mental health was developed after conducting a needs assessment, was implemented in 15 schools with 263 adolescents. Craig proposed the following critical practices for school counselors working with LGBT 381). Murray, Mobley, Buford, and Seaman DeJohn (2008) cond ucted a review of the existing literature on IPV within same sex relationships and provided implications for counseling professionals. They discussed the challenge of recruiting participants for ictims of IPV in same sex relationships may experience, which may lead potential participants to be hesitant to share their stories with researchers, and even to seek help or speak about their experiences with clinicians. This poses a significant issues fo r professional counselors given that Murray and colleagues (2008) found prevalence rates of IPV ranging from one quarter to one half of all same sex relationships. Yet, they did not find research on the outcomes of treatment approaches/models for same sex IPV while conducting their literature review, further highlighting this need in clinical services literature. Though previous research on LGBT adolescents and dating violence was not found, conceptualization of the factors that protect against the risk o f suicide for LGB adolescents may be helpful in understanding how adolescents cope with significant stressors. Rutter (2008) proposed the Cumulative Factor Model for conceptualizing protective factors and risk factors associated with LGB adolescent suicide Rutter


27 proposed this theoretical framework and suggested that social support, resilience, and optimism will protect against the risk of suicide and mitigate the effects of mental health issues, substance abuse, and victimization and abuse related to sexu al identity. Given that IPV may occur in similar rates in same sex couples and heterosexual couples, it is important for counselors to examine adolescent DV among same sex couples because of the impact on psychosocial development and well being. Adolesce nts who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or questioning (LGBTQIQ) may already have more struggles in terms of identity development and interpersonal relationship development compared to heterosexual adolescents because of the stigma and discriminat ion that still exists. Additionally, LGBTQ IQ adolescents may be less likely to report dating violence victimization if it comes with the added impact of coming out to friends, family, or non parental adults in order to seek help or advice. Therefore, cult urally sensitive research is needed to help develop prevention and intervention strategies for this vulnerable population based on strengths and assets.


28 CHAPTER 2 METHODS Research Design This study was designed using a qualitative phenomenological approach. In phenomenological research, researchers seek to understand the common themes, or approach was chosen for this study because the researcher sough t to understand and describe the lived experiences of the participants who overcame adolescent dating violence with a same sex/same gender partner during adolescence. Rather than explaining why a phenomenon occurs, phenomenological research in intended to explore what occurred and how it occurred (what and in what context) in an effort to phenomenon(Creswell, 2008). This method was chosen in order to address the gap in the literatu re related to the strengths and resiliencies lesbian and bisexual females utilized to overcome adolescent dating violence. Because of the lack of research in this area, this strengths based approach allows those who have lived through the phenomenon to exp have a part in the contribution to the literature. Participants Participants identified as having experienced dating violence during adolescence in a relationship with a partner of the same sex or gender. Participants determined independently upon viewing recruitment materials that they qualified as participants for the study, and they contacted the researcher directly about participating in the study Two participants were interviewed for t his study. Both participants identified their gender


29 as female and indicated that they were in a violent or abusive relationship with another female during adolescence. At the time of the interview, participants were over the age of 18 and were currently e nrolled in a university; one participant was 21 years old, the other declined to share her age but indicated she was over 18. One participant self identified as lesbian and the other identified as bisexual. One participant self identified her race / ethnicit y as White/Native American and Hispanic/Latino. The other participant identified her race / ethnicity as Caucasian. Little information was gathered about the participants in order to protect their identities. Both participants were actively involved in the LGBT community on campus. Both participants were in an abusive relationship at the age of 18, during their final year of high school. One participant ended the relationship with her past partner when she moved away for college, and the other participant e nded the relationship with her past partner shortly after moving for college. One participant stated that she had experienced emotional abuse, and the other participant did not specify the type of abuse she experienced. To protect the participants from pos sible distress, and to keep the focus of this study on strengths and resiliencies utilized to overcome the past relationship, the specifics of what happened in the abusive relationships were not explored in depth. Though the researcher did ask how the part icipants believe the abusive relationship impacted their development, participants were not specifically asked about their sexual identity development or where they were in this process at the time of the relationship. Instrumentation Participants were interviewed individually using a semi structured format. Questions were open ended, including those on the self report demographic form,


30 which allowed participants to provide preferred identifiers rather than checking boxes for pre concei ved notions of age, race, ethnicity, gender, and sexual orientation. Interview questions were developed based on strengths, resiliencies, challenges, and cultural implications highlighted in the existing literature. In line with phenomenological methodol beliefs and biases based on past experiences through conversation and reflection (Creswell, 2008). The interview questions developed were presented to a mixed level research team co mprised of maste r's and doctoral students in counselor e ducation and one counselor educator. The researcher was given feedback and encouraged to spend more time examining personal biases and beliefs, including internalized deficit oriented beliefs, related to the topic. T he researcher discussed her life experiences and related beliefs with members of the research team over several weeks and also reflected on past experiences through journaling The researcher then adapted the interview questions to be more aligned with a s trengths based perspective. The final questions were presented to a committee of three counselor educators for further feedback. Once all changes were made and approved by the committee members, they were submitted to and approved by the institutional revi ew board (IRB) (Appendix C.) Procedures This study was conducted on campus at a large university in the southeastern United States. Participants (n = 2) were recruited through an on campus LGBT affairs office IRB approved fliers (Appendix F) were posted at the office of LGBT affairs, and a recruitment email (Appendix G) was sent through a listserv maintained by the office of LGBT affairs and through the listserv for the counselor education program. Participants were asked to contact the researcher directl y, either by email or phone, if they were


31 interested in participating in the study. It was explicitly stated that participants had to be at least 18 years old to be involved in the study. A $25 Starbucks gift card was offered to participants to thank them for their time. The researcher held individual interviews with each participant after obtaining voluntary consent from the participants. The informed consent (Appendix A) included phone numbers for two free counseling resources in the local area in case p articipants experienced distress during or after the interview. Participants were informed that they could stop the interview and retract themselves from the study at any time. The participants were also asked to complete a demographics questionnaire (Appe ndix D). To assess for the potential of emotional or psychological distress as a result of participation in this study screening questions (Appendix B) were asked to determine whether they were currently involved in an abusive relationship; both participa nts stated that they were not. Participants were interviewed individually using the IRB approved interview questions and follow up questions. Each interview was audio recorded. After the interview, the researcher and participants discussed the experience of being interviewed about their story and participants were again informed of the free counseling services available in the community. Participants were invited to meet for one additional meeting to review the themes found for the purpose of member checki ng or respondent validation (Creswell, 2007.) This process allows the participant to have a voice in the data analysis process. One participant chose to meet with the researcher for the purposes of member checking. The participant agreed with the themes fo und by the researcher and approved of the selected quotes/significant statements.


32 Data Analysis After the completion of the interviews, the recordings were transcribed for analysis. The researcher read through the verbatim transcripts several times before choosing significant statements, as per ph enomenological methodology (Cre swell 2007.) The significant statements were then categorized into meaning units, or themes, that were common to all participants. Researcher program. I personally identify as a Caucasian, bisexual or pansexual female. Pansexuality, simple put, refers to a fluid sexual orientation in which one may be attracted to a pe rson of any gender or sex, whether they identify as male, female, transgender, genderqueer (non binary,) or other. I have life experiences with both heterosexism, as well as intimate partner violence. To reduce the potential for bias in this study, I engag ed in the process of bracketing (as described in the procedures section) to set aside my beliefs and biases as much as possible before beginning data collection. I also discussed my life experiences and the perceived impact on my development and worldview with peers in the counselor education program. To the best of my ability, I have implemented procedures to enhance the trustworthiness of this study. Verification Procedure The researcher utilized verification procedures common in strengths based qualita tive methodologies, as described by Creswell (2007 ). First, the researcher engaged in the process of bracketing prior to data c ollection. D ata was analyzed and categorized into significant statements and themes and the reviewed by another


33 researcher The r esearcher then presented the themes to one of the participant s for the purposes of member checking.


34 CHAPTER 3 RESULTS The researcher found six themes related to strengths and resiliencies and one theme related to challenges in receiving either su pport or services. The themes related to strengths and resiliencies were a)goals, b) support/trust, c) validation/relating to others, d) self as a priority/boundaries and e) values. The theme for challenges was lack of cultural competence/marginalization. Goals The first theme, goals is related to the resiliency that participants found in thinking about their academic achievements and plans. One participant stated, in realization shared her experience with finding strength in future plans and academic goals: I did have teachers that encouraged me to apply to college and be more academically accomplished. And th ose relationships that I had prior [to the abusive relationship] kind of helped ground me. So it was kind of a beneficial structure because I knew there was some kind of standard to meet and it was a goal I could actually going to be able to reap the benefits, and ultimately I was able to And so it definitely did pay off. Support and encouragement from others was also reported as being beneficial, in that it related to the development of future plans and goals. One participant stated, The societal pressure just to be academically successful and go to college kind of helped but it was more the pressure from my high school teachers and mentors to push through that. I never really teachers.


35 Support/Trust The second theme was related to the reactions from others when l earning about the abusive relationship or discussing the impact it had on them. The participants were able to feel safe with and to trust people who offered encouragement and support. One participant described how her mother helped her to recognize the s ituation she was in and to cope with the end of the and then I realized I was kind of being taken advantage of and it was making me sad all the time, and that kind of helped pul the support from her parents was a factor that helped her to overcome the back in perspectiv In addition to parental support and encouragement that fostered trust and safety, relationships with non parental adults and peers were also identified as helpful. One participant talked about how her teachers in high school provided a safe space fo r her when she needed encouragement but was not yet what I shared because there were obvious student teacher boundaries that needed to be respected and rules that I knew how t expressed how she was able to receive support and encouragement from peers


36 in college once she was removed from the abusive situation, particularly those from her own cultural background and from the LGBT community. She stated, T not very open about my emotional issues with them [my family], P eer support definitely helped at that point. I was able to compare what was bad and what was good in my relationships, and when I came to college it was really stressed -by various sources, by mentorship programs, by orientation, and a lot of the freshman introductory sources, the resources they have on campus -it was stressed that, you need to network, you need to expand. It sort of gave me just a reason to push myself out there into areas I'm not comfortable with and I just sort of went with it until so mething clicked. They were really considerate and compassionate, and if I didn't want to talk about it and wanted to talk about something else, they were totally open to letting me get my mind off of it. And, you know, just enjoying everything else. We'd go out places, we'd do these things. They kept me active. A subtheme of support and trust theme, nurturing environme nt was related to daily interactions with others in various environments (i.e., school, work, home). One participant described how relationships with people she met at work, school, and in her dorm helped her to recognize that her past experience had been abusive in nature: My college roommate helped a lot...and I found a job when I moved with anyone, but those two helped me put the puzzle pieces begin with, so it just made sense for me to channel it through different people to see if it was abuse, because, you know, I never told my family, I never surroundings, and with supportive people who w ere around me in a structured format, that really helped me realize exactly what I had


37 was basically school, work, dorm. That structure I had created for myself outside of where I grew up reall y helped me realize just what people who pick up on different things. So that really helped. Being around new people in a new environment also helped the participant to recognize different discussed how her environment and supportive people who lived in close proximity helped her both to recogn ize that her relationship was abusive and to cope with the relationship ending by stating, I sent a text to my roommates and my closest friends. Most of them came right over. After I was off the phone with my mom they were already there, so that was really nice. They were all really understanding and it was great having people to talk to immediately like they already knew what was going on.


38 Validation/Relating to Others Another resiliency factor that emerged from the data was validation of the experience and having other people who could relate to similar experiences. One participant found support in her current romantic relationship. On participant crappy relationship and that [they were] also tre ated horribly and we both regard to dating violence; one participant discussed how her best friend provided her strength while simultaneously coping with the effects of past trauma, and social and systemic marginalization related to race, class, and sexuality: M really nice to be able to talk it out...She wasn't as shocked because she came from a very similar bac kground... She had different dynamics going on, but she completely understood how it's like to grow up poor and with a struggling family and parents who do very traumatic things and, you know, struggle immensely to make sure came my best friend...It really gave me the opportunity to finally be open with things that I had just been pushing back Self as a Priority/Boundaries I don't ever let [people] take advantage of me. I'm still giving, but it's


39 still hold t o that I will go to my friend's side... I'm always there for my [partner], and [they are] always there for me. It's okay to prioritize myself about what you need and just be diligent and follow through with whatever you can, forgive yourself for what you can't do. The other coin to being diligent is just it's okay to fail, just push through that. The relationship dynamics for mentorship wasn't structured so that there's an obv resources, and the only way you can tailor resources is just to allow them to just talk to their mentor and go at their own pace about what th ey need from the university and what they need from their choice to be myself was really helpful because I don't think I ever gave myself that option before, I never even thought of the possi bility. Values


40 I don't think [the relationship] really impacted my outlook on life. I still try to see people in the most positive way that I can, especially if I don't know them, there's no reason for me to think cheerful person, I don't act much came out pretty horrible, like always upset, and I definitely have gone back to almost exact ly the same person that I was when I went in. So I feel like I'm more me now, I'm me again... I think I'm in a good place.


41 Lack of Cultural Competence/Marginalization I'd have to really extensively, like find a psychologist that understands gay relationships, and then make sure that they have good reviews online from people that have already gone to them for gay related things that they understand what they're talking about. While I don't think lesbian relationships are much different, I don't want to be at a per son who's really not like, [who would] ignorantly advise me to not be in a same done more research, I might have gone.


42 s of help going to the counseling center if you know you can't always compound on each other, and it's those little things that just knick away at the independence that I've just sort of made hey opened everything up for completely heal myself... this isn't even just counseling, but across the board. You know, being a culturally competent person will just help you deal with things better become culturally competent in how the university culture works. And they're really good at training you how to be culturally competent in how to deal with them because they have a lot of programs, it's just like, how to be a great [university] student, be a student leader, but they don't teach it in reverse, you know, how to reciprocate that action. It's not nice being a brown woman and not straight on game day. It's very hostile, and if you're by yourself it's incredibly traumatizing challenge. When I have someone like yelling slurs at me it just kind of reminds me of just how culturally incompe tent some of my was attending [university] [it] definitely didn't help because there were no people like me that were succeeding... It would be a lot nicer if there were a lot more prominent people of my background issues when you are the other because no one knows how to approach you, which is the issue I had with my first counselor.


43 CHAPTER 4 DISCUSSION literature related to dating violence in same sex relationships, while also providing a unique strengths based perspective by focusin g on resiliencies. The aspects related to cultural competence and marginalization that did not directly relate to the experiences of dating violence were included in the results because it highlights the importance of understanding the intersectionality of multiple identities and gives a more adequate view of the context. This is part of an important conversation for professional counselors and counselors in training to have related to what constitutes cultural competence (for example, is it a skill or a wa y of being? Is it a conscious or an unconscious process?) The six themes found were a) g oals, b) s upport /trust c ) v alidation/ r elating to o thers, d ) s elf as a p riority/ b oundari es, e) v alu es, and f) l ack of c ultural c ompetence/ m arginalization. The idea that goals may act as a protective factor against the potential negative outcomes related to adolescent dating violence could be related to the sense of mattering described by Coker and Borders (2001). This sense of having a plan for the future an d a belief that one is capable of achieving significant goals may act as a resiliency factor by providing survivors a positive vision of the future to look forward to while they are experiencing trauma or the after effects of trauma. Similarly, Rutter (200 8) proposed that optimism may act as a protective factor against suicide for LGBT adolescents by mitigating the negative effects of goals for the future, such as attending and graduating college, especially for a


44 first generation college student, may mitigate some of the negative factors associated with adolescent dating violence victimization. Support and trust may also relate to the framework provided by Rutter (2008). Alon g with optimism, Rutter proposed social support as a protective factor for LGBT youth suicide. Additionally, one of the participants expressed the importance of the support she received from her parents. Miller and colleagues (2009) found that parental mon itoring and parental support for non aggressive styles of conflict resolution was negatively associated with dating violence among adolescent females. Although the participant did experience dating violence, the support from her parents may have helped her to recognize the situation as abusive and to leave the relationship. Furthermore, Coker and Borders (2001) found parental and familial support which includes communication, reciprocity, responsiveness, and warmth to foster a sense of mattering and belon ging for adolescents, as well as having a significant impact on relationship formation with prosocial peers. This participant identified the sense of support and mattering she experienced with her parents as the most beneficial resiliency factor in overcom ing her abusive relationship. Peers also offered trust and support for the participants during and after their relationships. Rutter (2008) identified social support as one of the main resiliency factors for LGBT adolescent suicide. Additionally, Liang a nd colleagues (2010) identified growth fostering relationships with peers and mentors relationships which involve mutual engagement, empowerment, authenticity, and ability to deal with conflict as being significantly associated with adolescent well being particularly higher self esteem and lower levels of depression. For the


45 participants of this study, support and trust were exemplified through reactions to learning about abusive experiences and through behaviors that allowed the participants to share op enly, to have a choice about what they shared, and to engage in prosocial activities according to their own comfort level. These experiences described by the participants seem to involve authenticity, empowerment, and mutual engagement. In regard to the su btheme, nurturing environment, the physical proximity was important to the participants because they were able to choose not to be alone and they were able to engage in activities with others. It could also be interesting to note that physical proximity away from the perpetrator may also have been beneficial, as both participants had moved away on their own for college, but this construct was not explored in depth during these interviews. Validation was an important theme mentioned by both participants It was related to having close friends or role models who had similar experiences or came from similar backgrounds. Though none of the previous literature reviewed specifically mentioned the construct of validation, Akers and colleagues (2011) did explor e how African American parents utilized examples of healthy relationships from their families, their communities, and from the media to offer examples that their daughters could relate to. Additionally, Craig (2013) proposed the importance of highlighting strengths in every session, integrating affirmative content, attending to intersecting identities, and creatively engaging families when conducting group work with LGBT adolescents, and these constructs may be related to validation of self and culture.


46 Furthermore, the theme of self as a priority/boundaries may also relate to the model proposed by Craig (2013). By becoming aware of strengths and affirming oneself, participants were able to see themselves as valuable and capable. This new self concept led to a better understanding of their own personal boundaries and what they will or will not accept in relationships. This may also be tied to the sense of mattering discussed by Coker and Borders (2001). It appears that this theme of putting the self as a p riority and setting boundaries does not come from an individualistic viewpoint, but rather comes from a sense of connection to a community and the belief that one has value and something of value to offer to others. As we saw in the values theme, the parti cipants were able to integrate what they learned from a negative experience into the motivation to advocate for others, to support others, and to offer kindness and compassion to others. Thus, putting self as a priority and having goals for themselves allo wed the participants to act as strength and resiliency factors for other people who have experienced or may experience dating violence. The values that the participants expressed were related to being kind to others and speaking out for others, and they we re cultural values in that they were shared either by parents, mentors, peers, or a larger community. The theme lack of c ultural competence/m arginalization offered an alternative perspective to the strength and resiliency themes; it highlighted how non su pportive relationships, even those that may be unintentionally unsupportive as was the case with the counselor, can be detrimental to people who are actively coping with and seeking help for past trauma. This theme further exemplifies the importance of cul tural competence as a core component of an


47 effective counseling relationship. As Craig (2013) stated, it is vital for counselors to attend to intersecting identities and to include affirmative content when working with LGBT adolescents, and especially LGBT adolescents of color who may be experiencing discrimination on multiple levels and from multiple sources. Implications This study has implications for LGB affirmative counseling, multicultural counseling, and counseling with people who have experienced d ating violence. First, the importance of trust and safety were present throughout the results as factors that were helpful to the participants. This has implications for the counseling relationship, but it also may suggest that bringing supportive friends and family into the counseling process may create a more comfortable environment for the client, compared to a traditional, one on one counseling session. This may be supported by assertions by Craig (2013) who recommended working with youth in a group set ting and creatively engaging families in the process. Furthermore, the communal nature of the themes and the importance of cultural competence may suggest that counselors who are both culturally competent and visible public advocates for LGB people (whethe r they are LGB themselves or allies) will be better able to establish a strong therapeutic bond grounded in support, encouragement, and trust. The importance of understanding the intersectionality of identities and culture is also necessary for counselors to consider when working with clients. Finally, the strengths and resiliencies that were beneficial to these participants may also act as protective factors for people who experienced dating violence regardless of their gender or sexual orientation, but fu rther research is warranted to explore how the process


4 8 is different for those who identify as lesbian or bisexual and those who identify as straight. Limitations of the Study There are several limitations to this study. As with all qualitative research, the results are not intended to be generalizable. Furthermore, though the researcher sought to investigate how strengths and resiliencies may buffer the negative effects often associated with adolescent dating violence (depression, substance abuse, suicida l ideation, etc.), the researcher did not ask about these negative effects, and therefore cannot state with certainty that the strengths and resiliencies protected against them. An important limitation to note is that the participants were not specifically asked how their experiences were or might be different from those of straight/heterosexual females who experienced adolescent dating violence. It would also have been helpful to gather more information about what this experience is like for lesbian and bi sexual females of color and the intersection of identities. Similarly, the participants were not asked about their sexual identity development, where they were in their sexual identity development at the time of the abusive relationship, or how the experie nce may have impacted their sexual identity development. Additionally, the reflective nature may be a limitation since the participants were interviewed several years after the experience of dating violence occurred. Finally, a limitation of this study is that there were only two participants. Recommendations for Future Research In the future, researchers may want to conduct similar research with a larger group of participants, as well as with participants from many different cultural


49 backgrounds. It cou ld be important to explore this experience through the lens of the minority stress model and how multiple minority identities interact with the Murray et al., 2008). Moreover researchers may want to include people who identify as male, transgender, or non binary in future studies. Additionally, it may be helpful in future research to ask specifically about the negative outcomes typically associated with adolescent dating viol ence and whether those effects were mediated or eliminated once the protective factors were introduced. Further, for purposes of generalizability, a measure may be developed using the themes found in this research and other research on LGB coping resources and resiliencies so that quantitative studies can be conducted. If the themes were found to be generalizable, it could be beneficial for the field of LGB counseling, particularly for adolescent clients who may not have support. Finally, in the future rese archers who conduct similar studies may want to ask specifically about how the proximity to or away from the perpetrator impacted their healing process. Conclusion I n summary, it appears that a combination of multiple protective factors offered support to the participants in their process of overcoming dating violence during adolescence. Though qualitative research is not generalizable, the themes that emerged are a starting point for understan ding the phenomenon of strengths and resiliencies that can help lesbian and bisexual females overcome adolescent dating violence. It was not surprising that the importance of cultural competence emerged, as this is a core competency for professional counse lors. Further research on strengths, resiliencies, and affirmative counseling can help further


50 advance the field as one that supports a paradigm of social justice and human rights.




52 Informed Consent Study Title: Exploring th e Strengths, Resiliencies and Challenges of Lesbian and Bisexual Females Who Experienced Dating Violence in a Same Sex Relationship During Adolescence Purpose The purpose of this study is to explore the strengths, resiliencies, resources, and challenges o f lesbian and bisexual female adolescents who have past experience of dating violence in a same sex relationship. Procedures If you agree to participate, you will be asked questions about your past experiences, including your strengths and the support s ystems you had while you were in a violent or abusive relationship. The interview will be audio recorded and transcribed by the researcher. Once the audio recording has been transferred to an encrypted flashdrive and an encrypted UF server, it will be dele ted from the audio recorder. Once the audio recordings have been transcribed, the audio will be destroyed. No identifying information about you (such as your name) will be included in the transcription. The interview will take approximately one hour. After analysis of the data, I will ask you to verify the accuracy of my data analysis. I will information will be presented without identifying your name or any other identifying informati on about you or other participants. You will have the opportunity to correct or clarify any information that you don't fully agree with. Your total time commitment will be approximately two hours should you choose to complete the study. Confidentiality So me direct quotes may be used in publication of study; however, they will be anonymous and therefore not connected with your name or identifying information. Please keep this in mind when deciding to tell anyone that you are participating in this study, bec ause people you know may be able to guess which quotes belong to you if they know you participated. To protect privacy and confidentiality, please do not mention names of other people or other identifying information about them during our interviews. Limit s to confidentiality include abuse of a minor, a person who is disabled, or a person who is elderly (this can include past abuse if it has not yet been reported). Confidentiality can be broken if you are a danger to yourself or others or if ordered by a co urt of law. Your identity and information will be held confidential to the extent provided by law. If you choose to participate and sign the consent form, the form will be held in a folder separate from other documents. Signed consent forms will be kept in a locked filing cabinet. Audio recordings and transcriptions will be identified by a number assigned to you and will not be associated with your name or any identifying information. Audio recordings will be transferred to a password protected flashdrive a nd a secure UF server within 12 hours of recording and will then be deleted from the recording device. Recordings of our interviews will be


53 transcribed into a word processing document and the audio recording will then be destroyed. Audio files and transcri ptions will be identified by a number assigned to you and will not be associated with your name or any identifying information. One other graduate student or a faculty member will have access to the transcribed documents to assist with data analysis, but t hey will not hear the audio recordings. Your name and identifying information will not be associated with the transcripts; and therefore your identity will not be revealed to these individuals. Potential Risks Due to the nature of the topic, you might ex perience emotional or psychological distress. Should you experience distress during or after the interviews, please let me know as soon as possible so that the interview can be stopped. We will discuss your experience together, and you can decide if you wo uld like to be referred to counseling services. Counseling services are offered to University of Florida students free of charge at the Counseling & Wellness Center. They can be contacted at 352 392 1575. Since there can be a wait time for intake sessions, you may want to schedule an appointment as soon as possible if you think that you might be interested. Walk in appointments are also available, and there are phone counselors available to talk to you after hours if you call the main number. (352) 392 1575 Potential Benefits You might gain a greater awareness of your strengths, resiliencies, and coping skills through the experience. The results of the study will also contribute to the knowledge base of counselor researchers and may lead to further studies that will inform counseling practice. Participant's Rights Your participation is completely voluntary. You have the right to skip any questions you do not wish to answer. You also have the right to stop the interview at any point, and to withdraw from the study should you choose. Compensation You will not receive any compensation for participating in the study. Access to Results Should you be interested in following up on the study after completion, please contact me at after April 2014. Questions or Concerns If you have other questions, concerns, or complaints that I have not addressed to your satisfaction, please contact me, Rachel Henesy at or my faculty advisor, Dr. Edil Torres Rivera at To learn more about your rights as a part icipant, contact the University of Florida Institutional Review Board, at IRB02 Office, Box 112250, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611 2250; phone 392 0433.


54 For counseling services, please contact the Counseling & Wellness Center at 352 392 1575 Participation Agreement: I have read and understand the procedures explained above. I choose to voluntarily participate in the study and I have received a copy of the informed consent. Participant's Signature: Date: Principal Investigator's Signature: Date:




56 Screening Questions 1. Were you in a relationship with a same sex partner between the ages of 14 and 18 that was psychologically, emotionally, physically, or sexually abusive? 2. Did you and your partner both identify as female? 3. Are you currently in a relationship that could be characterized as violent or abusive, or do you frequently feel disrespected by your partner? (If yes, refer to CWC. Don't continue s tudy with participant.)




58 Interview Questions 1. Who or what helped you to realize that your relationship was abusive in nature? a. At what point in the relationship did you realize it? 2. At what age s were you in the relationship? a. Do you think that it impacted your development during this time? 3. Did your relationship with parents or care takers help you to overcome the situation? a. Why or why not? 4. Did relationships with non parental adul ts help you to overcome the situation? a. Why or why not? 5. Did relationships with peers help you to overcome the situation? a. Why or why not? 6. Were there societal factors that helped or hindered your ability to find support during this time? a. What were they and what was the impact? 7. Were there aspects of your culture that helped or hindered you ability to find support during this time? a. What were they and what was the impact? 8. Where, or with whom, were you able to find the most support during and/or after the relationship? a. Were you a member of any groups, clubs, or organizations? i. If so, did you find them supportive? ii. Why or why not? 9. How did you grow from the experience?


59 10. What would you want to share with someone who i s in an abusive relationship? 11. How has the experience impacted your personal identity and your outlook on life? 12. Did you or your partner seek counseling services during or after the relationship? a. Before or after? b. Did you go alone or together? c. What was the primary concern when seeking counseling? d. Were there barriers to or challenges with accessing counseling services? e. How did you chose your counselor? f. Did you look for a counselor that specialized in LGBT issues? Dating violence? g. Did you see a counselor in the community or at your school? h. Did you feel understood by your counselor? i. Did you feel comfortable being honest with your counselor? j. What would you have liked your counselor to do that he or she did not do? k For how long did you receive services? l. Were you satisfied with the outcome? i. Why or why not? 13. If you think about one person or group that was the most helpful to you during and after your experience, what characteristics come to mind? What ac tions? 14. Is there anything else that you would like to share?




61 Participant Demographics Please state your age: How do you identify your gender? How do you identify your sexuality? How do you identify your race? How do you identify your ethnicity? Have you participated in a research study before? Why are you interested in participating in this study?


















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71 Draucker, C. B., & Martsolf, D. S. (2010). The role of electronic communication technology in adolescent dating violenc e. Journal of Child & Adolescent Psychiatric Nursing, 23 (3), 133 142. doi:10.1111/j.1744 6171.2010.00235.x Foshee, V. A., Benefield, T., Suchindran, C., Ennett, S. T., Bauman, K. E., Karriker Jaffe, K., et al. (2009). The development of four types of adol escent dating abuse and selected demographic correlates. Journal of Research on Adolescence (Blackwell Publishing Limited), 19 (3), 380 400. doi:1 0.1111/j.1532 7795.2009.00593.x Foshee, V. A., Ennett, S. T., Bauman, K. E., Benefield, T., Suchindran, C. (200 5). The association between family violence and adolescent dating violence onset: Does it vary by race, socioeconomic status, and family structure? Journal of Early Adolescence, 25 (3), 317 344. doi:10.1177/0272431605277307 Harper, A., Finnerty, P., Martin ez, M., Brace, A., Crethar, H., Loos, B., . Lambert, S. (2013). Association for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender issues in counseling competencies for counseling with lesbian, gay, bisexual, queer, questioning, intersex, and ally individual. Jou rnal of LGBT Issues in Counseling 7 2 43. Hurdle, D. E., Okamoto, S. K., & Miles, B. (2003). Family influences on alcohol and drug use by American Indian youth: Implications for prevention. Journal of Family Social Work, 7 (1), 53 68. Retrieved from ?direct =true&db=aph&AN=12012489&site=ehost live Liang, B., Tracy, A. J., Kenny, M. E., Brogan, D., & Gatha, R. (20 10). The relational health indices for youth: An examination of reliability and validity aspects. Measurement & Evaluation in Counseling & Development (Sage Publications Inc.), 42 (4), 255 274. doi:10.1177/0748175609354596 Lichter, E. L., & McCloskey, L. A (2004). The effects of childhood exposure to marital violence on adolescent gender role beliefs and dating violence. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 28 (4), 344 357. doi:10.1111/j.1471 6402.2004.00151.x McKelvey, L. M., Whiteside Mansell, L., Bradley, R. H., Casey, P. H., Conners Burrow, N., & Barrett, K. W. (2011). Growing up in violent communities: Do family conflict and gender moderate impacts on adolescents' psychosocial development? Journal of.Abnormal.Child Psychology, 39 (1), 95 107. Retrieved from https://search.ebsco ?direct=true&db=fcs&AN=23912715&site=ehost liv e


72 Miller, S., Gorman Smith, D., Sullivan, T., Orpinas, P., & Simon, T. R. (2009). Parent and peer predictors of physical dating violence perpetration in early adolescence: Tests of moderation and gender differences. Journal of Clinical Child & Adolescent Psychology, 38 (4), 538 550. doi:10.1080/15374410902976270 Murray, C. E., Mobley, A. K., Buford, A. P., & Seaman DeJohn, M. (2006). Same sex intimate partner violence: Dynamics, social context, and counseling implications. Journal of LGBT Issues in Counse ling 1 (4), 7 30. doi:10.1300/J462v01n04_0 Pearce, L. D., & Haynie, D. L. (2004). Intergenerational religious dynamics and adolescent delinquency (English). Soc.Forces, 82 (4), 1553 1572. Retrieved from ehost live Qin, D. B. Yoonsun C. (Auteur des parties liminaires / Author of,introductory parts, & Levesque, Roger J.R.(Auteur des parties liminaires / Author of introductory parts). (2008). Doing well vs. feeling well : Understanding family dynamics and the psychological adjustment of Chinese immigrant adolescents (English). J.Youth Adolesc., 37 (1), 22 35. Retrieved f rom direct=true&db=fcs&AN=20232501&site=ehost live Raiford, J. L., Wingood, G. M., & DiClemente, R. J. (200 7). Prevalence, incidence, and predictors of dating violence: A longitudinal st udy of African American female adolescents. Journal of Women's Health, 16 (6), 822 832. doi:10.1089/jwh.2006.0002 Rutter, P. A. (2008). Suicide protective and risk factors for sexua l minority youth: Applying the cumulative factor model. Journal of LGBT Issues in Counseling 2 (1), 81 92. doi:10.1080/15538600802077681 Singh, A. A., & Shelton, K. (2011). A Content Analysis of LGBTQ Qualitative Research in Counseling: A Ten Year Review. Journal Of Counseling & Development 89 (2), 217 226. Smokowski, P. R., Rose, R., & Bacallao, M. L. (2008). Acculturation and Latino family processes: How cultural involvement, biculturalism, and acculturation gaps influence family dynamics. Family Relations, 57 (3), 295 308. Retrieved from ?direct=true&db=eric&AN=EJ798239&sit e=ehost live; 3729.2008.00501.x Spriggs, A. L., Halpern, C. T., Herring, A. H., & Schoenbach, V. J. (2009). Family and school socioeconomic disadvantage: Interactive influences on adolescent dating violence victimization. Social Science & Medicine, 68 (11), 1956 1965. doi:10.1016/j.socscimed.2009.03.015


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74 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH Rachel Henesy was born in St. Petersburg, Florida. She gradua ted with a Bachelor of Arts degree in psycholog y in 2009 and began the Master of Arts / Education Specialist program in Mental Health Counseling at the University of Florida in 2011. During her time in the Master of Arts / Education Specialist program, Rachel has volunteered for the Alachua County Crisis Cente r, interned at Pace Center for Girls, and worked as a Graduate Peer Educator for STRIVE (Sexual Trauma & Interpersonal Violence Education) at GatorWell. She anticipates graduation in May 2014 and is looking forward to beginning a doctoral program in Counse lor Education in the fall of 2014.