Cecilia Mengo

ORCID Identifier(s)


Graduation Semester and Year




Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Social Work


Social Work

First Advisor

Beverly M Black

Second Advisor

Eusebius Small


Studies have examined the relationship between IPV and mental health. However, there is limited knowledge on women who seek help from police stations because many studies have used samples of women residing in domestic violence shelters and medical clinics. The purpose of this dissertation is to understand self-reported mental health symptoms among women seeking help from a police station. Evidence shows that there are many variables that affect the link between IPV and mental health. This dissertation specifically explores the impact of demographic risk factors, type and number of IPV incidents, victim referral needs, and protective factors (social support, coping strategies, and economic resources) on self-reported mental health symptoms. Data from case records of women victims of IPV seeking help from a city police station located in the southwest, United States, were examined to identify: (1) the type and incidents of IPV, (2) demographic risk factors of age, ethnicity, marital status, and financial dependence, (3) protective factors of social support, coping strategies, economic resources, and (4) self-reported mental health symptoms. The sample consisted of 154 women majority (42.9%) of whom were aged between 31-40 years. Nearly half of the women were married (51.9%), about 45.5% were Whites, 28.6% Black/African Americans, 18.8% Hispanic/Latino and 7.1% were categorized as others. More than half of the women experienced physical violence (70.1%); 9.1% experienced sexual violence; 14.9% experienced emotional/stalking violence and 5.8% experienced combined violence. Approximately 67.5% of the women reported some mental health symptoms. Bivariate analyses showed that there were significant differences in mental health symptoms based on protective factors of social support, coping strategies, and economic resources. Contrary to the expectations of this dissertation, those who had more resources significantly reported more mental health symptoms. In addition, those who had more resources reported fewer IPV incidents but these differences were not significant. Overall, victim referral needs, social support, coping strategies, and economic resources were all positively correlated with mental health symptoms. Further, social support was found to postively predict mental health symptoms among women. Coping strategies fully mediated the relationship between the interaction variable of IPV and victim referral needs, and mental health symptoms. Social support and economic resources did not mediate this relationship. Results from this dissertation indicate that development of individuals’ protective resources may help protect women from repeated IPV and improve their mental health and well-being. Specifically, coping strategies may reduce the negative impact of IPV on women’s mental health. In discussing prevention and intervention efforts with women who have experienced or are at risk of experiencing IPV, social work practitioners need to emphasize the important role of coping resources as a protective factor mental health symptoms.


Intimate partner violence, Mental health symptoms, Police station, Women


Social and Behavioral Sciences | Social Work


Degree granted by The University of Texas at Arlington

Included in

Social Work Commons