Methods: Students at eight academic campuses in a southwestern state were randomly selected to complete at online survey including validated measures of physical and psychological IPV, academic disengagement, and sense of their campus community and safety. Conditional process analyses (Hayes, 2018) were used to understand the pathways between forms of IPV, mental health, sense of community, and academic disengagement behaviors. The current analysis comprises 6,818 female-identified students. Participants were 25.3 years of age on average (SD = 8.11). Twenty-seven percent were graduate or professional students, and 85% reported living off campus. Forty-five percent of students identified as Hispanic/Latin@, and 42% identified as White.
Results: Each conditional process model found a significant indirect path between physical or psychological IPV and academic disengagement through extent of depression symptomology. Student sense of campus community was directly associated with fewer academic disengagement behaviors, regardless of their extent of physical violence experiences. However, the impact of psychological IPV on academic disengagement was significantly stronger for those with lower senses of community on campus. Sense of safety on campus directly influenced extent of academic disengagement regardless of extent of physical or psychological IPV.
Conclusions and Implications: College students are engaged in a journey of professional and personal development. Supporting students in achieving their academic goals strengthens their economic and social capital which can contribute to decreased future risk of violence. The findings of this study identified some of the pathways that connect experiences of IPV victimization with academic disengagement behaviors. Universities can apply these findings through the provision of evidence based mental health services and campus advocacy services, and efforts to increase students’ sense of community. Effective university responses could be an important facilitator of positive academic outcomes for female survivors of intimate partner violence, enhancing their economic power and potentially their long term safety from future experiences of violence.