STRATEGIES OF ACADEMICALLY SUCCESSFUL LATINAS WHO EXPERIENCED FAMILY VIOLENCE AS CHILDREN by Maribel Luna A Dissertation Presented to the FACULTY OF THE ROSSIER SCHOOL OF EDUCATION UNIVERSITY OF SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA In Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree DOCTOR OF EDUCATION May 2009 Copyright 2009 Maribel Luna
This study looks at the combination of two discerning trends in the United States: 1) Latinas as the largest yet, least educated minority group in the United States and 2) Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) as the number one cause of injury for women in the United States. Although research has been done in each of these categories individually, the educational experiences of Latinas growing up with family violence as children have not been researched. This study examined the phenomenon of being a Latina, experiencing family violence as a child, and achieving academic success. The aim of this study was to find useful coping strategies for use with other Latinas in this same situation. Ten academically successful Latinas were individually interviewed. Three major coping strategies emerged from the study: (1) School served as a safe haven; (2) Relationships with teachers and mentors; and (3) Detachment and repression as coping mechanisms. Recommendations for practice included professional development for educators, early college awareness programs, and mentors for Latina youth. Suggestions for future research included studying this same trend with varying cultures and researching general coping strategies of children who experienced IPV in the home.