Social status may play a more complex role in a woman's risk of abuse than previously thought, say researchers from the University of Arkansas School of Social Work. Just published in the Journal of Ethnic and Cultural Diversity in Social Work, their findings indicate that black women with college educations are at more risk of abuse than the those with high school educations.
University of Arkansas researcher, Kameri Christy-McMullin, said that employment status and education were the strongest predictors of abuse for both black and white women, yet the picture was markedly different for the two groups. "The findings for African American women were astounding," said Christy-McMullin. She found that black women with a four-year college degree or more were 145 times more likely to experience sexual or other abuse than women with less than a high school education. Conversely, white women with higher incomes, or who had a college degree, were less like to be physically abused.
The results could support the idea of backlash theory, the notion that as women take on roles that have traditionally been held by men, men will resort to abuse as a means of keeping women in their traditional roles, according to Christy-McMullin.
But Christy-McMullin's study did suggest some commonalities among women. "Policies regarding divorce and distribution of property may be an important intervention in decreasing the incidence of abuse, regardless of a woman's racial or ethnic heritage." Specifically she observed that policies to address the distribution of income and property during divorce settlements could help women retain the resources necessary to be self-sufficient. The study also found that older women, regardless of race and ethnicity, are less likely to be abused than younger women.
Source: University of Arkansas - Fayetteville