Presentation Details

The Second International Conference on New Directions in the Humanities

Latin American Women’s Perceptions of Divorce: An Exploratory Study of the Situation and Image of Divorced Women in Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic

Dr. Joyce A Arditti, Nancy Lopez.

Divorce can be a life-changing situation for women, which brings about a host of social, psychological and economic changes. It is important to recognize that divorce does not occur in a vacuum, but that the experience is embedded in a cultural context that will influence one’s understanding of the phenomena. Particularly in Latin America, because of its unique history and cultural developments, divorce tends to be more heavily stigmatized compared to countries in Western Europe, Scandinavia Canada and the United States. Divorce in Latin America, typically has a negative connotation and communities have considered divorced women as social outcasts.

An on-line survey was administered in Spanish to a population of married and divorced Puerto Rican and Dominican women. Most survey questions were open-ended, in order for participants to have the opportunity to speak in their own words, and bring forth the important aspect of their personal or semi-personal experiences, from their perspectives. In addition, some demographic information was gathered for the purpose of describing the sample.

Based on the responses of 100 women, results of a qualitative content analysis revealed a range of perceptions about divorced women as well as cultural beliefs about the importance of marriage and need for women to “endure” in marriage. Specifically, divorced women were perceived as either being successful and independent, or as failures and social outcasts. Latin American women who were divorced themselves were more likely to hold positive attitudes about divorce in general as were women from Puerto Rico.

The effects of divorce as perceived by this sample of women will be discussed as well as the implications of social stigma on divorced Latin American women in the two countries targeted for this study.


Dr. Joyce A Arditti  (United States)
Associate Professor of Human Development and Family Studies
Department Of Human Development
Virginia Tech

Joyce A. Arditti, received her doctorate in Family Studies from the University of North Carolina, Greensboro. Her research interests include family disruption, parent-child relationships, and public policy. Her scholarship in the area of divorce is recognized nationally and abroad and she has published numerous empirical and review articles in therapy, human services, and family studies journals. She was recently appointed Editor of Family Relations, The Interdisciplinary Journal of Applied Family Studies, and serves on the editorial boards of , Marriage and Family Review, and Journal of Divorce and Remarriage.

Nancy Lopez  (United States)

Virginia Tech

  • Divorce
  • Latin American Women
  • Social Stigma

(30 min. Conference Paper, English)