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Abstract

Research on women who have experienced domestic abuse indicates that they feel marginalized; stigma, shame and fear about the response of services stop women from seeking the support they need. The current study aimed to explore the unique perspectives of women who have experienced domestic abuse in order to gain an understanding of their experiences, their perceived identity, sense of self and resilience. Interviews were conducted with eight women who had experienced domestic abuse and transcripts were analysed using grounded theory methodology. Findings indicated that domestic abuse had a significant impact on the women interviewed. In particular, the ongoing relationship the women had with their abusive partner, due to contact with the children, served to perpetuate their identity as an abused woman. The study also found, however, that the women were able to utilise resources that increased their resilience. They were striving for a normal life, prioritising their role as a mother and attempting to reconstruct their own identity through the assumption of new roles.

Note on the Author

Emma Crawford, Clinical Psychologist working for Birmingham Children’s Hospital National Health Service Trust. She works with looked after children and children with learning disabilities. Her Doctoral thesis was entitled, ‘Understanding Women’s Experiences of Domestic Abuse: The Impact on their Identity, Resilience and the Mother-Child relationship.’ She is interested in following up this research within her service.

Helen Liebling-Kalifani, Lecturer-Practitioner in Clinical Psychology, Coventry University. She is a member of African Psycare Research Organisation, Uganda, and helped to establish and run the clinical psychology masters course at Makerere University, Uganda. Together with Isis-WICCE and APRO, she has been working with war-torture survivors since 1998. Her PhD followed up earlier intervention work in Luwero and is now published as a book. She has been awarded ESRC funding, the Phil Strong Research Prize, an Applied Research Fellowship, Royal Society and British Academy funding for her ongoing research with war survivors.

Vicki Hill, Consultant Clinical Psychologist working in a Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service for Coventry and Warwickshire Partnership NHS Trust. Areas of work and interest have included working with adult and child survivors of different forms of abuse including Domestic abuse and in training multi agency audiences in Child Protection issues.

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