BATTERED WOMEN: A PHENOMENOLOGICAL ANALYSIS OF STAYING AND LEAVING

PEGGY A SCHWEIZER, Fordham University

Abstract

This study focuses on why some women stay in abusive relationships while others leave. An understanding of this problem is gained by studying the subjective meanings that battered women give to these acts of violence.^ A phenomenological analysis is used to provide a framework for studying the social situations of battered women. The premise is that battered women live in "life-worlds" where they define their abuse in such a way that allows them to remain in their battering relationships. In order for a woman to leave her abusive situation, she must redefine the meaning of the abuse. However, prior to this redefinition, her original definition of the abuse must be thrown into question. In order to leave, the woman's subjective reality regarding the abuse must be altered. The extent to which it is altered determines whether or not she will leave the abusive relationship.^ Ten women were interviewed in depth for this exploratory study. All of the interviewees were staying at a shelter for battered women at the time of the interviews. An open-ended interview and participant observation were the methods chosen for data collection. These techniques allowed the interviewees to describe their abusive relationships from their own perspectives.^ The findings suggest that the women interviewed were socialized into "life-worlds" that encompassed abuse and that they remained in these abusive relationships until their definitions of the abuse were challenged. These women left their abusive relationships after their subjective definitions regarding the abuse had undergone a change. However, this leave-taking process was not necessarily final. The women would often return to their abusers only to leave them again at a later date. Nevertheless, the leave-taking process was similar no matter how often they left the abusers. ^

Subject Area

Individual & family studies

Recommended Citation

SCHWEIZER, PEGGY A, "BATTERED WOMEN: A PHENOMENOLOGICAL ANALYSIS OF STAYING AND LEAVING" (1986). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI8709235.
http://fordham.bepress.com/dissertations/AAI8709235

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