• Leaving an abusive relationship: A hermeneutic phenomenological study of lifetime experiences of women who have left abusive relationships

      Bracken, Michele; Thomas, Sue Ann, 1947- (2008)
      The purpose of this study was to make a contribution to what is known about the leaving process by providing a voice for abused women to determine meaningful patterns associated with the life experiences of 10 women who had left an abusive relationship. Through a qualitative, hermeneutic, phenomenological research design, meaningful life experiences of women who left abusive relationships were interpreted through life patterns. Max Van Manen's (1990) specific methodology was used because of its descriptive and interpretative blend as well as strong orientation to the nature of the phenomenon. This design allowed development of a comprehensive understanding and interpretation of the phenomenon as a whole. Margaret Newman's Theory of Expanding Consciousness (1994) was interwoven within this study, which enhanced the interview process, provided a method of chronology for the collected data as well as provided a nursing focus to the interpretation. Three essential themes emerged from the in-depth interview analyses: (1) Disconnection from self and others, especially mothers; (2) Experiencing chaos related to extreme shame and terror; and (3) Experiencing strength and resilience in the face of minimal resources and support. None of these participants utilized the health care system to help them. These findings provide the foundation for future research on how nurses can help women to disclose their abusive situations. Providing compassion, acknowledgement, and support will allow women to trust the nurse and seek help. By listening to the stories these women have to tell, a nurse will be better equipped to individualize her care.