Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Maternal Child Nursing

First Advisor

Dr. Judith A. Lewis


This study addresses the question, "What is the lived experience of Southeast Asian immigrant women who live in the United States related to domestic violence, including the relationships with their partners, their knowledge of domestic violence, and the existence of domestic violence in the Asian community?" Fourteen Thai women engaged in semistructured interviews during which they were asked to describe their experience. This study chose the phenomenological approach, using content analysis that identified six major themes representing essential aspects of the experience, as described by the participants: (a) Knowledge about Domestic Violence and Sources of Information, (b) The experience of Domestic Violence, (c) The existence of Domestic Violence among Thai Women, (d) Factors Considered to be Violence-protective, (e) Life as a Thai Wife, and (f) Ability to Perform Duties as a Woman. Ten of the participants had not experienced domestic violence by their husbands; two had been abused in previous marriages; one was currently being abused by her husband; and one had abused her husband early in their marriage. The women defined domestic violence as abusive actions identified by physical, verbal, emotional, psychological, and sexual abuse, including assault and threatening behavior. The women's knowledge of domestic violence was based on personal experience, witnessing abusive behavior in other relationships, or reports in mainstream media sources. The study's findings confirm the existence of domestic violence in the Thai community. The participants identified the husband's infidelity as the main cause, followed by family background creating a generational chain of abusive behavior. Protective factors that prevent domestic violence are the husband's supportive characteristics, the wife's financial independence, and confidence in the U.S. legal system. Although the majority of the study participants did not experience domestic violence, they encountered various constraints, such as feelings of frustration and helplessness, attributed to the challenges of immigrant women adapting to a new society and culture. Despite limitations involving recruitment, this study expands the knowledge of domestic violence among Thai immigrant women, providing valuable insight for healthcare professionals interested in improving culturally sensitive resources for these women. The study's findings also provide important evidence that suggests the need for further research to examine domestic violence among Southeast Asian immigrant women living in the United States.


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Is Part Of

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Is Part Of

VCU Theses and Dissertations

Date of Submission

June 2008