Relationship between multiple exposures to violence and coping strategies among African-American mothers
This exploratory study examined the relationship between coping strategies of 136 African-American mothers, their exposure to community violence, and their interpersonal victimization. It is suggested that the disproportionate victimization of African-American women produces a cumulative triple threat for those who live amidst conditions of community violence in the following manner: a) exposure through daily living in the midst of unpredictable community violence; b) exposure to violence from witnessing violence in the neighborhood; and c) exposure to violence from disproportionately high rates of personal victimization. The findings suggest that coping strategies are used differentially as a function of the amount of violence within the social context, and the education and financial resources of the mothers. Mothers who live in lower-violence areas with college education preferred activism as a coping strategy, whereas those in high-violence areas with comparable incomes and education preferred reliance on prayer and instituting safety practices. Coping strategies differed based on whether mothers had been physical victims and witnesses to violence or had no personal experience with violence. This study lays the groundwork for a model of exploring the impact of the cumulative effects of violence on African-American mothers parenting in urban America.