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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Healing and posttraumatic growth in African American survivors of domestic violence: An exploration of women's narratives
by Dickerson, Anne G., Ph.D., The University of North Carolina at Charlotte, 2011, 322; 3491403
Abstract (Summary)

This research explores how African American women's narratives present their healing processes after they experience domestic violence. The research was conducted within the framework of Black feminist epistemology. A narrative approach was selected to present the lived experience of each woman in her own words.

Participants were selected through a purposive, snowball sampling procedure. The criteria for participants included three elements: (a) African American women who were native to the United States, (b) experience with domestic violence, and (c) in a self defined process of healing as evidenced by one or more criteria of healing. Six participants were identified and recruited by domestic violence service providers. One participant was subsequently excluded from the research as she had no experiences of being physically abused. The other five participants completed a series of three interviews.

The transcribed interviews were analyzed using narrative data analysis procedures that were adapted from Polkinghorne. A storied account for each woman was constructed from the interview data. The stories contain the plot elements, both exterior and interior, that helped each woman move from trauma to healing. The stories also convey biographical elements for each woman that provide a context for the abuse and subsequent healing. Following the stories, the major common themes are identified.

In the discussion section, the healing themes from the narratives are related to the relevant literature. The healing narratives contain the five markers of posttraumatic growth: deepened spirituality, redefinition of self, hope for the future, increased gratitude, and deepened relationships. Although growth is evident in all five areas, the participants stress the primary importance of their spiritual connections to God. Cognitive restructuring is the process by which the women are able to develop deeper spiritual faith and to tap into their own internal strength and wisdom.

Racial issues are also discussed, including areas of discrepancy between the participants' accounts and literature about African American women and domestic violence. The discrepancies are explored and questions are raised about how the race of the interviewer might have impacted the interview process. The discrepancies are also discussed within the context of the literature about intersecting identities and racial identity development.

The implications for clinical practice are presented along with specific recommendations for helping African American victims of domestic violence heal from the trauma. Limitations of the research are named and suggestions for future research are outlined.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Lassiter, Pamela S.
Commitee: Abrams, Lyndon P., Furr, Susan R., Kulkarni, Shanti J., Lim, Jae Hoon
School: The University of North Carolina at Charlotte
Department: Counseling (PhD)
School Location: United States -- North Carolina
Source: DAI-B 73/05, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: African American Studies, Womens studies, Counseling Psychology
Keywords: African Americans, Domestic violence, Healing, Narratives, Posttraumatic growth
Publication Number: 3491403
ISBN: 978-1-267-13520-9
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