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Friday, March 6 • 10:45am - 12:00pm
Listening to African American women’s experiences of trauma and community

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This study aims to further understand the experiences of urban African American women who have experienced trauma in their lives. Prior research suggests that city dwelling non-Whites are more likely to experience violent traumas (e.g., Breslau, et al., 1998), and symptom severity and coping strategies may differ among women of various racial backgrounds (e.g., Ford, 2011). Other studies have addressed the importance of the neighborhood environment for mental health outcomes among African American individuals (e.g., Gapen, et al., 2011). As part of an undergraduate community-engagement course, interviews were conducted with African American residents of a low-income inner-city neighborhood. Teams of students and the course instructor conducted these interviews in response to a request from the community to learn about residents’ experiences of trauma and recovery. Prior to analysis, excerpts of the interviews were shared with the community anonymously in a public reading. A total of 11 interviews were conducted with African American women who are residents of an inner-city community. The semi-structured interviews began with an open prompt inviting interviewees to describe meaningful experiences in their lives; these experiences frequently included multiple traumas. At this stage in the project, all interviews have been conducted and transcribed. The Listening Guide (Gilligan, Spencer, Weinberg, & Bertsch, 2006) will be used to analyze these interviews. Preliminary analysis suggests that the major themes of trauma, resilience, and the importance of community will be highlighted. This project will add to the current literature by utilizing a qualitative framework in order to underscore the role of community in African American women’s stories of trauma and resilience. The Listening Guide is an ideal method for this study, as it will allow us to be more attuned to the complex and nuanced ways in which these women experienced trauma in the context of their community. References: Breslau, N., Kessler, R.C., Chilcoat, H.D., Schultz, L.R., Davis, G.C., & Andreski, P. (1998). Trauma and posttraumatic stress disorder in the community. JAMA Psychiatry, 55(7), 626-632. Ford, J.D. (2011). Ethnoracial and educational differences in victimization history, trauma-related symptoms, and coping style. Psychological trauma: Theory, research, practice, and policy, 4(2), 177-185. Gapan, M., Cross, D. Ortigo, K., Graham, A., Johnson, E., Evces, M., Ressler, K.J., & Bradley, B. (2011). Perceived neighborhood disorder, community cohesion, and PTSD symptoms among low-income African Americans in an urban health setting. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 82(1), 31-37. Gilligan, C., Spencer, R., Weinberg, M. K., & Bertsch, T. (2003). On the Listening Guide: A voice-centered relational model. In P.M. Camic, J.E. Rhodes, & L. Yardley (Eds.). Qualitative research in psychology: Expanding perspectives in methodology and design (pp. 157-172). Washington, D.C.: American Psychology Association.

Friday March 6, 2015 10:45am - 12:00pm PST