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Growing Up – Adult Daughters of Battered Women: Growth After Violence April 8, 2011

Posted by Alicia in Domestic Abuse.
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Picture this: You are twelve years old. You are hiding under your bed listening to the the screaming, the scuffle, and then a loud thump.

You count the seconds of quiet. When you build up the courage to peer down the hall, you see your mother with blood on her face, lying in a fetal position. Dad scoops her up and slams her against the wall.

Fast Forward: You are now an adult. You have been a witness to years of domestic abuse. You are strong and confident, and you have healthy relationships.

How did that happen? Most of the research concludes that you would most likely have low self-esteem, troubled relationships, and a violent approach to solving problems.

I found a research study that discovered five themes that were common among women who have witnessed many years of domestic violence yet were able to carve out a life that is peaceful, rewarding, and free of violence.

The results of the research* below outlines what women have done to thrive after growing up in a violent home. Participants range in age from 22 -64 years, who experienced a minimum of 13 years of domestic violence being perpetrated on their mother by either a father or step-father.

The five common themes for growing past the trauma are:

  1. Understanding and accepting the realities of their childhood, particularly, acknowledging the shared powerlessness of their mothers and of themselves to stop the violence.
  2. Sorting through the experiences of the past, including what was passed on to them by each parent, finding and keeping what was useful, while discarding the rest.
  3. Making sense of the actions of the batterer, by placing accountability on their fathers/stepfathers for making the choices they did.
  4. Viewing their mothers as active resisters to the abuse and exemplars of survival rather than victims.
  5. Recognizing how their own resilience, agency, and intentional choice-making kept them from following the path of violence and perpetuating the cycle of abuse in their adult lives.

*Abstract: Adult Daughters of Battered Women: Posttraumatic Growth Following Childhood Violence (Research that Promotes Sustainability and (re)Builds Strengths (January 15 – 18, 2009))

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