This study examined Portuguese-speaking women's definitions of wife abuse and beliefs about appropriate responses to abuse. The goals were to determine the breadth of definitions and to examine cultural stereotyping. This information was sought in an effort to design education strategies in the Portuguese-speaking community.
One-on-one semistructured interviews were conducted with 163 Portuguese-speaking women living in Toronto, Canada. The participants' open-ended answers were first coded using Qualitative Software Research NUDIST and then narrowed and grouped. Responses were then tagged by group label to generate descriptive statistics using Statistical Package for Social Sciences.
Participants defined wife abuse broadly with respect to kind, prevalence, and severity. Six themes for abuse emerged: physical, psychological, sexual, financial, patriarchal, and infidelity. Participants provided various responses to what women should do and actually do in response to abuse. Most participants believed that Portuguese-speaking women should leave their husbands and/or seek help for the abuse, but that they actually remain quiet about the abuse and take very little action. Their responses and explanations demonstrate that they hold stereotypes about their culture.
The range of definitions reported by participants suggests that a continuum of wife abuse, using Portuguese-speaking women's own words, can be created to educate them about how abusive acts are linked and used to maintain control over women. The differences that emerged with respect to appropriate responses to abuse suggest that it may be important to challenge Portuguese-speaking women about the cultural stereotypes that they hold to help them see patriarchy as widespread rather than particular to their culture.
This descriptive study seeks to understand what first and second generation Portuguese women believe about wife abuse and what actions they believe are appropriate for an abused wife. Eighty first generation and 54 second generation women participated. The researcher read the questionnaire items aloud in one-on-one meetings. Overall, participants defined wife abuse broadly, did not approve of wife abuse, were most likely to believe that women should seek external help, and did not hold strong patriarchal beliefs. However, a number of generational differences were found. Second generation women were more likely to label an abusive behavior as abuse, and first generation women were more likely to approve of abuse, endorse indirect or traditional options to deal with wife abuse, and hold stronger patriarchal beliefs. The study's implications for research and practice within Portuguese communities are discussed.