Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


School of Education


Leadership PhD

First Advisor

Elsie P. Jackson

Second Advisor

Jimmy Kijai

Third Advisor

Elvin Gabriel


Purpose of the Study. Female-on-female aggression is often inferred, or drawn from studies conducted with children or males. Little or no information is available that reports behaviors perceived as mistreatment or abuse among women. The purposes of this study were to investigate (a) behaviors demonstrated by women that women consider abuse or mistreatment; (b) the extent to which these perceptions of abuse/mistreatment were related to gender profiles; and (c) the extent to which personal experiences as victims or perpetrators of abuse were related to age, race, and education.

Method. This study used the survey research method in which questionnaires were mailed and self-administered to a convenience sample of 1,700 Mary Kay™ personnel and their associates. Six hundred and twenty-six of the 640 respondents who chose to participate in this study were included for final data analysis. The questionnaire was designed to elicit demographic characteristics, gender profile, and overt and covert acts or behaviors that may be considered mistreatment/abuse.

Results. Thirty-five percent of the women admitted to being perpetrators of abuse, while 59% reported being victims of abuse by other women. Only overt behaviors such as “sleeping with her husband to hurt her” were considered acts of abuse. Caucasians tended to view these overt acts as more abusive than other racial groups. In addition, women in the 40-49 age range perceived these acts to be more abusive. Perception of abuse was not related to gender profile.

Conclusion. The phenomenon of woman-on-woman abuse is quite real. Unlike gender and education, race and age appear to play important roles in the perception of this phenomenon. Race, age and educational levels appeared to play important roles in the perception of victimization.

Subject Area

Abused women, Abusive women.

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