Intimate Partner Violence and Structural Violence in the Lives of Incarcerated Women: A Mixed-Method Study in Rural New Mexico St. Cyr, Shilo; Jaramillo, Elise Trott; Garrison, Laura; Malcoe, Lorraine Halinka; Shamblen, Stephen R.; Willging, Cathleen E.
Intimate partner violence (IPV) is a common feature in the lives of incarcerated women returning to rural communities, enhancing their risk of mental ill-health, substance use, and recidivism. Women’s experiences of IPV intersect with challenges across multiple social–ecological levels, including risky or criminalizing interpersonal relationships, geographic isolation, and persistent gender, racial, and economic inequities. We conducted quantitative surveys and qualitative interviews with 99 incarcerated women in New Mexico who were scheduled to return to micropolitan or non-core areas within 6 months. Quantitative and qualitative data were analyzed separately and then triangulated to identify convergences and divergences in data. The findings underscore how individual and interpersonal experiences of IPV, substance use, and psychological distress intersect with broad social inequities, such as poverty, lack of supportive resources, and reluctance to seek help due to experiences of discrimination. These results point to the need for a more proactive response to the mutually constitutive cycle of IPV, mental distress, incarceration, and structures of violence to improve reentry for women returning to rural communities. Policy and treatment must prioritize socioeconomic marginalization and expand community resources with attention to the needs of rural women of color.
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