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Feminist Seminar: Sarah Shah, Great Expectations? Contextualizing Mental Health Outcomes of Intimate Partner Violence

March 21 @ 2:00 pm - 4:00 pm

This seminar is co-sponsored with Race, Ethnicity, and Immigration Workshop.

Discussant: Cynthia Cranford (U of Toronto)

Extant research indicates that women from more gender equitable countries enjoy higher levels of mental health than women from less equitable backgrounds. However, research also indicates that when women are confronted with unfair gendered interactions, they experience poor mental health outcomes. Whether women’s country of origin can shape mental health outcomes following experiences of intimate partner violence (IPV) is, therefore, quite a perplexing puzzle. Does gender inequality of the country of origin affect the association between intimate partner violence and mental health outcomes among immigrant Canadian women? Is this relationship mediated or moderated by personal and social resources? This study is innovative in four distinct ways: first, it includes measures previously unused in IPV literature, including the Gender Inequality Index (GII) by year of immigration for country of origin, as well as levels of anger of the respondent and perceptions of mastery over the environment; second, it applies a hierarchal approach to analyzing the experiences of women as situated within social structures; third, it analyzes social and personal resources as well as country of origin in relation to outcomes following experiences of IPV, instead of analyzing IPV as an outcome; and finally, it uses primary data from a sample of Toronto women. Drawing on the stress process model and nested ecological framework theory, this study implements multilevel model techniques on the Neighborhood Effects on Health and Well-being (NEHW 2010) Study. Findings include that higher levels of gender equality correlated with higher rates of poor mental health following experiences of IPV, and that this relationship is mediated and buffered by mastery and social support, respectively. While I offer potential explanation for these findings using expectation states theory, I stress the actual mechanisms for these relationships remain are unknown. I conclude by discussing both the limitations of this study and directions for future research, including a call for nuanced understandings of the contextual effect of resources, stressors, and outcomes, with attention to the variance between these factors.

Sarah Shah is a PhD student in Sociology at the University of Toronto.


March 21
2:00 pm - 4:00 pm
Event Category:


Rm 240 Sociology
725 Spadina
Toronto, ON M5S2J4 Canada