Publication Date

Fall 2014

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department

Counselor Education

Abstract

Intimate-partner violence (IPV), also known as domestic violence, is a pervasive personal and public health problem in the United States. Factors affecting the risks of suffering IPV have been widely researched as have the symptoms of battered woman syndrome, a forerunner of posttraumatic stress disorder or PTSD. Much of this line of research has sought to study the problems of abused women rather than their strengths. This qualitative study looks at the phenomenology (subjective reality) of six women, ages 23 to 48, who participate in support groups at a domestic violence prevention agency in the northeastern United States. By their own definition, all six have overcome the difficulties of IPV and moved on to new lives free from abuse. Interviews with the participants revealed childhood themes that might have aided in the development of resiliency factors in adulthood. Broad themes identified were Trust, Insight, Boundaries, and Independence. Specifically, the active presence of at least one trusted adult, the ability to make meaning and solve problems, the setting of boundaries and expectations at home, and the entity of a powerful biological mother appear to be related to the participants’ development of resiliency. Overlaying this scenario is the construction of each individual’s phenomenology, which continues to develop throughout the lifespan. The participants’ responses to IPV appear to first function as coping mechanisms and then resiliency factors, transforming victims into survivors.

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