Date of Award

Spring 1996

Degree Type

Master's Essay - Restricted

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)




Violence against women has a number of costs to individuals, families, and society, including physical and mental health problems. It is a major social and public health issue. In spite of the severity of the problem, domestic abuse often goes unrecognized and unaddressed by society (deLabunta, 1995). Domestic violence has been studied from a number of different angles. The recovery process of formerly battered women, however, has been the focus of research in only a few studies. Thus, the healing and recovery of women who have been involved in abusive relationships was the phenomenon under investigation in this research project. The study was undertaken using the qualitative approach of phenomenology. Parse's (1987) Theory of Man(sic)- Living - Health provided the conceptual framework. Five women who had been previously involved in an abusive relationship were interviewed. Retrospective descriptions of these women's lived experiences of healing and recovery, focusing on the period of time after they left the abusive relationship, were examined. Nine major themes encompassing these women's healing process surfaced from their individual descriptions: Stuck in patterns, turning points lead to realization, regaining control, finding the strength to stay away, rebuilding a life, dealing with emotions, feeling good about me, and helping self through helping others. These themes were part of a very dynamic process, uniquely experienced by each woman.