Native Women, Intimate Partner Violence, and Drug Use and Consequences: Prevalence and Associations Among Tribal College and University Students
MetadataShow full item record
Background: Research has demonstrated high rates of problematic substance use in college and American Indian and Alaska Native (AIAN) samples and disproportionately high rates of intimate partner violence (IPV) among Native women. Epidemiological data on drug use and comorbidities in AIAN populations are scarce and the identification of tribally-specific protective factors that might buffer the effect of IPV on subsequent drug use lacks adequate empirical research in this population. This study investigates prevalence estimates and relationships between drug use and IPV and the potential for ethnic identity to buffer the effect of IPV on drug outcomes among Native women at Tribal Colleges and Universities (TCUs). Methods: This study used cross-sectional data from a sample of Native women at TCUs (n = 1,810). Prevalence of drug use and IPV were estimated using descriptive statistics. Bivariate analyses of demographic, IPV, and drug outcomes assessed for significant relationships. Regression analyses tested the potential moderating role of ethnic identity. Results: Most women had used drugs at least once in their lifetime (62%), with almost a third (29%) reporting use in the past three months. Among women who had ever had a partner (n = 1,553), 49% had experienced IPV in their lifetime and 15% in the past year. Experiencing any IPV and multiple types of IPV were significant predictors of lifetime, but not current drug use. Lifetime IPV and sexual IPV were significant predictors of negative drug use consequences. Ethnic identity did not moderate relationships between IPV and drug outcomes. Implications: Findings from this study suggest that early initiation of drug use and experiencing IPV as an adolescent were common among this sample, highlighting a need for strategic prevention efforts among TCU students and AIAN adolescents. Results also indicate a need for trauma-informed substance abuse treatment specific to the unique dynamics of IPV. Finally, this investigation demonstrated that the Revised Multi-Group Ethnic Identity Measure was not effective in assessing the buffering effect of identity in this sample. A measure of identity specific to Native worldviews and life experiences should be used to test the potential protective effect of identity in tribal communities.