Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


College of Education and Human Services



Thesis Sponsor/Dissertation Chair/Project Chair

W. Matthew Shurts

Committee Member

Kathryn Herr

Committee Member

Leslie Kooyman

Committee Member

Lyndal Khaw


The prevalence of intimate partner violence (IPV) has been well established in the literature, but most of the research is focused on the rates, risk factors, and consequences of IPV among adults (Hamby, 2014; Jennings et al., 2017). However, IPV is most common among women (ages 18-24), which is also the age of the traditionally aged college student. This qualitative study explored the experiences of 12 women who were abused by an intimate partner during their college years. The goal was to understand the unique experiences of college women who experience IPV; Hearing directly from survivors allows for capturing a more accurate story of what it is like to name your abuse as a college student.

Participants ages 18-26 currently enrolled in college or recently graduated from undergraduate programs who experienced emotional, physical, financial, psychological, and sexual abuse at the hands of their partners during their college years were recruited to share their stories. Grounded in Feminist Theory a total of 20 individual semi-structured interviews were conducted among a group of 12 women. Carol Gilligan’s Listening Guide was used to analyze the data and listen for the unique experiences of the participants. This required that each transcript be reviewed at least 3 times for plot, the “I”, and contrapuntal voices. The findings suggest that college women’s lived experiences with IPV can be conceptualized using two distinct voices: The Voice of Recognition and The Voice of Empowered Maturity. Within these voices women shared how difficult it is name and label abuse, particularly sexual coercion, the ways in which they came to understand mutuality and agency, and how they matured into empowered women despite what they had been through. Implications for school counseling, higher education, counselor education, and future research were provided.

File Format


Included in

Counseling Commons