Title

Self-Perceived Strengths and Needs of Survivors of Domestic Violence: An Exploratory Study

Start Time

26-10-2007 2:00 PM

End Time

26-10-2007 3:30 PM

Abstract

Domestic violence impacts the lives and occupations of millions of women each year in the United States. Whether domestic violence involves physical, emotional, financial or other types of abuse, it affects the survivor’s participation in daily occupations and roles including mothering, work, leisure, home management and social participation. It also impacts the survivor’s sense of self and well-being. In the spirit of occupational justice it is essential that we understand the strengths that have led them to be a survivor and the needs experienced from individual to societal levels. Five female survivors of domestic violence from southern California participated in this study to explore their self-perceived strengths and needs. Semi-structured interviews were conducted using the Canadian Occupational Performance Measure. Three main themes emerged to describe their complex experiences, strengths, and needs: “Surviving Domestic Violence: It Feels Like I‚m on a Roller Coaster, “My Children: We’re All or Nothing”, and “Starting Over.” Several sub-themes evolved that further clarified the experiences. Surviving the domestic violence entailed: Fear & Anxiety, Depression & Decreased Motivation, Isolation & Withdrawal, and Ambivalence. The women’s children were a source of strength and motivation as seen in the sub-themes of: Fear of Losing Children, Time with Children, Children as Motivators, and Awareness of Children’s Needs. Starting over was a difficult and complex process unique to each woman’s situation. All the participant’s however, spoke of shaping their identity as a survivor, establishing goals, engaging in soul-searching and self-reflection, and participating in support groups. The women specifically identified several strengths which guided them thus far in their journey including love for their children, support from family and friends, work and volunteering, and their domestic violence support groups. The greatest challenges and needs included decreased motivation, disorganization, instability, time management, and necessary interaction with the abuser because of the children or legal issues. This study demonstrates the complexity of the occupational challenges these women faced as survivors of domestic violence. Understanding their perceived strengths and needs, and how participation in occupation influences health and well being is fundamental to empowering survivors of domestic violence to live a meaningful and productive life.

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Oct 26th, 2:00 PM Oct 26th, 3:30 PM

Self-Perceived Strengths and Needs of Survivors of Domestic Violence: An Exploratory Study

Domestic violence impacts the lives and occupations of millions of women each year in the United States. Whether domestic violence involves physical, emotional, financial or other types of abuse, it affects the survivor’s participation in daily occupations and roles including mothering, work, leisure, home management and social participation. It also impacts the survivor’s sense of self and well-being. In the spirit of occupational justice it is essential that we understand the strengths that have led them to be a survivor and the needs experienced from individual to societal levels. Five female survivors of domestic violence from southern California participated in this study to explore their self-perceived strengths and needs. Semi-structured interviews were conducted using the Canadian Occupational Performance Measure. Three main themes emerged to describe their complex experiences, strengths, and needs: “Surviving Domestic Violence: It Feels Like I‚m on a Roller Coaster, “My Children: We’re All or Nothing”, and “Starting Over.” Several sub-themes evolved that further clarified the experiences. Surviving the domestic violence entailed: Fear & Anxiety, Depression & Decreased Motivation, Isolation & Withdrawal, and Ambivalence. The women’s children were a source of strength and motivation as seen in the sub-themes of: Fear of Losing Children, Time with Children, Children as Motivators, and Awareness of Children’s Needs. Starting over was a difficult and complex process unique to each woman’s situation. All the participant’s however, spoke of shaping their identity as a survivor, establishing goals, engaging in soul-searching and self-reflection, and participating in support groups. The women specifically identified several strengths which guided them thus far in their journey including love for their children, support from family and friends, work and volunteering, and their domestic violence support groups. The greatest challenges and needs included decreased motivation, disorganization, instability, time management, and necessary interaction with the abuser because of the children or legal issues. This study demonstrates the complexity of the occupational challenges these women faced as survivors of domestic violence. Understanding their perceived strengths and needs, and how participation in occupation influences health and well being is fundamental to empowering survivors of domestic violence to live a meaningful and productive life.