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Title: Living with contradictions of love and violence : a grounded theory study of women's understanding of their childhood experiences of domestic violence
Author: Sammut Scerri, C.
ISNI:       0000 0004 5370 9371
Awarding Body: University of Surrey
Current Institution: University of Surrey
Date of Award: 2015
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Compared to the quantitative studies that have looked at the impact of domestic violence on children, few quantitative studies have looked at the continuing impact of domestic violence exposure on adult children and still fewer qualitative studies have explored this topic from the perspective of adult women reflecting on their exposure to domestic violence over time. None to date have taken a systemic, relational perspective to illuminate the complex family dynamics in a domestic violence context. To address this gap, a constructivist grounded theory (Charmaz, 2006) design, using a systemic lens, was used to illuminate the understanding of adult women’s experiences of childhood domestic violence in the family that they grew up in. In depth interviews were undertaken with a sample of 15 women who were recruited through health and social care professional colleagues. Data collection and data analysis happened concurrently and theoretical sampling, constant comparative method, memo writing guided the research process. The category “Living with contradictions, double binds and dilemmas” was presented as the core category that sought to throw light on the continual contradictions of love and abuse that the women had to struggle with, in making sense of their experiences. The three key categories that made up the core category were: a)“Being triangulated in the parental conflict and parentification, as a related and relational process”; b) “The traumatogenic effect of the violence on the child and adult development” and c) “Turning points/ Developmental processes that foster change and resilience, including reconciliation, reconnection and redemption”. The research participants’ childhood experiences and cultural contexts such as gendered beliefs, beliefs about religion, the limited professional responses and issues of secrecy and shame were presented as the contexts to understand their adult experiences, and these in turn gave meaning to their childhood experiences in an iterative process. The results highlighted a number of implications for practice, research, supervision, policy and service development, such as the need for practitioners to understand and manage intense contradictions and hold complex dilemmas when working with violence. One way that this can be done is by embracing an integrative theoretical framework including using systemic psychotherapy both as a meta-theory and as an intervention, with adult survivors and child witnesses of interpersonal violence.
Supervisor: Vetere, A. L. Sponsor: University of Malta
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available