Date of Award

Spring 5-11-2012

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Gabriel Kuperminc

Second Advisor

Julia Perilla

Third Advisor

Aki Masuda

Fourth Advisor

Kelly Lewis


Latina survivors of intimate partner violence (IPV) experience IPV at similar rates as other ethnic groups. However, the intersection of multiple cultural factors, including acculturation, can greatly influence a woman’s experience of IPV. For example, research suggests that Latinas experience unique forms of control and unique barriers to service in addition to positive coping. Nevertheless, a scarcity of culturally relevant interventions plagues the IPV field. Moreover, evaluations of such programs are remarkably scarce in the research literature. The current study evaluates an innovative peer leadership intervention, the Líderes program, which is grounded in a self-empowerment framework. The Líderes program is a peer education leadership initiative that taps into the natural leadership skills of Latinas. Although the effectiveness of similar peer leadership models addressing public and occupational health concerns, education outcomes, and nursing leadership can be found in the literature, this is the first documented attempt to include survivors of IPV as participants in such a program.

The study used a mixed methods design. The quantitative component included a multiple baseline research design including nine participants. The survey measured variables related to leadership development and a facilitator rating was utilized to measure behavioral change. The qualitative component included analysis of journals written by the participants documenting their experience of the program.

Results revealed that the Líderes curriculum was effective in influencing the self-empowerment of participants across the intrapersonal, interactional, and behavioral domains of leadership. The qualitative results supported this finding and provided evidence for the important role of a supportive environment for this change to occur.

The Líderes training program is the first training program for Latina community leaders who are also survivors of IPV. This study highlights the advantages of a peer-intervention training program as a way to develop existing strengths among Latina survivors of IPV.