Neha Batool

Date of Award

January 2021

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Rachel Navarro


To address the mental health impact of forced marriage in the United States, this study examined the lived experiences of nine women who were forced to marry between the ages of 10 and 25. Semi structured interviews, Interpretive Phenomenological Analysis (IPA), and Feminist Standpoint theory were utilized to explore their experiences prior to, during, and after their forced marriage, with a particular focus on their psychological wellbeing, coping mechanisms, help seeking behaviors, barriers, and needs. A total of eight superordinate themes emerged that highlighted the role of gender socialization, intergenerational violence and trauma, and adverse childhood experiences in forced marriages, all of which led to lifelong mental health challenges and consequences. Participants described the impact of violence on their identity development, attachment styles and interpersonal relationships. They reported internal and external barriers that led to their forced marriage and prolonged their stay in the marriage and emphasized a need for short-and long-term resources, including social support and economic stability. Their coping styles reflected appraisal-focused, emotion focused, and adaptive behavioral strategies. Results highlight the importance of further examining the role of systemic patriarchal structures that maintain status of privilege and oppression. Findings also reflect the importance of social justice framework in psychological interventions to prevent marginalization, stigma, and pathology and to increase help seeking behaviors, empowerment, and resiliency for this underserved community.