The lived experience of adolescent dating violence: Walking between two worlds
Wilk, Nancy C
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Adolescent dating violence is a public health problem recently being recognized and addressed. It encompasses physical, emotional, and sexual abuse in the context of an adolescent dating relationship that can result in serious physical and emotional consequences for the adolescent. Research has demonstrated prevalence rates that range from 9-60% depending on the methodology used. This research project examined the lived experience of dating violence of ten, Caucasian, older adolescent females between the ages of 18-22. The research question for this study was "What is the meaning and significance of experiencing violence within a dating relationship for the older, non-pregnant, non-parenting, college-aged adolescent female?" Young women who are victims of dating violence might suffer from significant health consequences such as sexually transmitted diseases, pelvic pain, infertility, and post-traumatic stress disorder. Emotional effects are seen into adulthood and affect future relationships. No qualitative studies have been done on the experiences of dating violence of the non-pregnant, non-parenting older adolescent. Understanding dating violence in this population will help to fill the gap in knowledge that exists. A qualitative approach of interpretive phenomenology based on the philosophical underpinnings of Heideggarian Hermeneutics was utilized for this study. Purposive sampling was used to recruit 10 female college students between the ages of 18 and 22 who were willing to share their stories of dating violence. The interviews were audio-taped and transcribed verbatim. The participants told their story of dating violence that best described the meaning and significance of this experience in their life. In phenomenological research, meanings are sought within the original context of the story. The transcribed interviews were analyzed using a seven-stage process as described by Diekelmann, Allen and Tanner (1989) for themes, meanings and understanding. At the end of the interview the participants were asked demographic questions that were used to provide a descriptive narrative about the sample. The constitutive patterns that cut across all six themes were "Walking Between Two Worlds: The Loss of Self" and "Entering a New World: Finding the Self." The themes were: (a) having a boyfriend to love, (b) falling into the web of manipulation, (c) keeping the secret and hoping things will get better, (d) becoming aware of alternatives: breaking out of the web, (e) feeling the effects of the abuse: the web of suffering, and (f) telling the story as a means toward letting go. The significance of this study is that understanding the meaning and significance of experiencing adolescent dating violence can assist nurses to better care for these young women in the settings in which they work. Nurses will be able to provide appropriate evidence based education and counseling to adolescents to prevent future violence.