|Posttraumatic Stress Symptoms and Victimization Among Japanese American Women
Authors: Mieko Yoshihama and Julie Horrocks, University of Michigan
Published: Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, V. 70 (1), 2002, 205-215.
What is the scope of this study?
This article looks at the relationship between intimate partner violence and symptoms of posttraumatic stress in Japanese American women, and it examines how "generational position", socio-demographic characteristics, prior victimizations and social support influence women's responses to intimate partner violence. The researchers hoped that their findings would help improve public policy and community services to a growing Asian immigrant population in the Los Angeles, California, area.
What is "generational position"?
"Generational position" refers to the length of time since immigration to the U.S. Through exploring participants' immigration histories researchers determined their "generational position." First generation Japanese Americans are those who immigrated to the U.S at age 13 or older; 2nd generation immigrated before age 13, or are U.S-born whose parents were born in Japan; 3rd generation are U.S-born, and their parents either immigrated to the U.S. before age 13 or were born in the U.S.; 4th generation are U.S. born to U.S. born parents, and their grandparents were born in the U.S. or immigrated here before age 13.
How was this study conducted?
Study participants came from Los Angeles County, California, where Japanese Americans comprise 15% of the local population. Using telephone listings, researchers contacted households with Japanese surnames, explained the purpose of the study and asked eligible female household members if they were interested in participating. Of the 407 households identified as having Japanese American women who fit criteria to be in the study, 211 (52%) participated. Criteria to be in the study were: female between age 18 and 49, Japanese descent born either in the U.S. or Japan, and had had an intimate heterosexual relationship. Only one eligible woman per household was allowed to participate in the study, and a random selection process chose between those eligible.
Researchers interviewed study participants in person, in either English or Japanese. Behavior specific questions determined participants' lifetime experiences of intimate partner violence. Modified versions of standard measures assessed posttraumatic stress symptoms, and the kind and severity of violence. Researchers also explored participants' experiences of childhood abuse (physical and sexual), and victimization not involving intimate partners (i.e., property theft, hate crime, muggings, etc.), and gathered demographic data such as age, marital status, education, and immigration background. Because existing measures of social support were deemed unsuitable for a Japanese American population, researchers created a culturally appropriate measure that quantified social support and assessed participants' opinion of the quality of support.
Prevalence of intimate partner violence
The majority of study participants had experienced some form of intimate partner violence in their lifetimes. Specifically,
There were no significant differences between participants of different generational positions in their experiences of abuse, non-partner victimization or posttraumatic stress. Participants of different generational positions differed demographically and in their perception of social support:
In a number of ways, the findings in this study agreed with findings from other studies about the effect of domestic violence on the psychological well being of women in the U.S. For example, more severe abuse predicted more severe posttraumatic stress, and there appears to be a cumulative effect (i.e., increased posttraumatic stress symptoms) with multiple experiences of trauma or abuse. There were several findings of concern. This study revealed that in this community sample of Japanese American women the number reporting intimate partner violence was disproportionate compared to women in the general population. In addition, the reported perception of poor social support among 1st generation Japanese American women, the strong association of physical with emotional abuse and emotional abuse with posttraumatic stress, and the persistence of posttraumatic stress symptoms over time suggested a need for certain services to immigrant populations, such as:
August 28, 2002
Center for Trauma Recovery
University of Missouri - St. Louis