Academic journal article Journal of Cultural Diversity

The Lived Experiences of Adult Female Victims of Child Abuse

Academic journal article Journal of Cultural Diversity

The Lived Experiences of Adult Female Victims of Child Abuse

Article excerpt

Abstract: The purpose of this study was to investigate the lived experiences of female victims of domestic violence who also identifited themselves as victims of physical abuse as children. There have been numerous studies of identifying perpetrators of violence as having a history os experienced violence in the family of origin. However, few studies address the victims/survivors of domesstic violence and the historical signigicance of abuse in the family of origin. It is estimated that greater than 50% of the victims of domestic violence were also victims of abuse as a child.

The research design partially followed the qualitative ethnonursing methodology. This pilot project consisted of seven females between the ages of 37 and 58. These women were members of a long-standing support group for battered women. The Pitts--Williams Inventory was used to obtain data. The instrument contained six major research questions, with sub questions.

Data analysis was done by identifying major themes that emerged. Eight themes were identified. This majority of the women identified their mother as the perpetrator. They described a continuous cluster of violence, which included several different forms of violence being used consistently in order to maintain control and foster isolations. This type of violence continued in throughout their childhood and adult life.

Keywords: Child Abuse; Domestic Violence; Physical Abuse

Child abuse is a criminal act that is still considered to be just a family problem by some. However, numerous studies have supported that the residual effects of child abuse can ead to chronic emotional and social pathology for its victims (Forte & Franks, 1996; Marshall & Rose; Pecukonis, 1990; Schwalbe, 1990). This study investigates the influences of physical childhood abuse on adult female victims of domestic violence by exploring the memories of their experiences. The study also investigates the severity of the violence, copying strategies, and factors influencing longevity of physical abuse in their lives. Reactions to crime responses are experience dependent. There are long-term psychological consequences that may transform the victims for a lifetime. Post traumatic stress syndrome, a re-experiencing of psychic and somatic memories, may be a persistent theme in the individual's life. The syndrome may become so severe that the victims' resultant dysfunctional or pathological behavior causes a poverty of overall well being.

Domain of Inquiry

The domain of inquiry for this study focused on adult female victims of domestic violence who identified themselves as victims of physical abuse as children. Current literature addresses the impact sexual abuse has on the adults who experience it. However, a review of the literature revealed that there is scant data on the impact that physical abuse as a child has on adult victims of domestic abuse. Field data analysis was verified with counselors in the field of domestic violence and female victims of domestic violence. In 1995, statistics verified that there were greater than 1500 neglected and abused child fatalities reported to child protective services in the United States (National Committee for the Prevention of Child Abuse, 1998). This type of abuse is not specific to any race, ethnicity, religion or economic class. Studies have shown that domestic violence is cyclic in nature and escalates (Meierhoffer, 1992). Though a number of these crimes come to the public's attention, many cases are never reported or investigated. There have also been some cases where adults who witnessed the murder of a sibling as a child during the act of abuse did not reveal the crime until late adulthood.

The emotional consequences of keeping family secrets about violence can have a profound affect on the victims of the crime of child abuse. It has long been reported that victims of domestic violence have low self-esteem and may have experienced violence in their family of origin. …

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