Publication Date


Document Type

Masters Thesis


School for Social Work


This study was undertaken in response to recommendations for further investigation by previous researchers regarding resiliency and vulnerability concerning recovery from trauma survivors of intimate partner violence (IPV) relevant to their religious and spiritual belief systems. Nine female IPV survivors, who had successfully exited the abusive relationship and identified as actively involved in a religious and/or spiritual tradition were interviewed. Three psychotherapists were interviewed who had professional experience treating this population. A qualitative research design was adopted in order to gather data from subjects considered to be experts in their own experience. Semi-structured open-ended interviews were conducted and coded. Major findings confirmed that survivors interpreted the Divine or sacred as not instrumental in causing the abuse, but instead provided them with opportunities to grow, learn and make life-changing choices. Likewise, survivors reported that their belief systems helped them to cope with past and present stress, permeated their perspective on daily life and was considered to be vital to satisfying clinical experiences. However, survivors utilized psychological interpretations to explain their participation in and the fact of the abuse as well as attempts to understand their abuser. Clinicians' observations regarding a correlation between survivor outcomes and religious/spiritual traditions were also found. Recommendations for further research include conjoint qualitative studies by researchers with pro and con biases regarding belief systems and recovery from IPV, especially as pertains to marginalized populations within this group.


iv, 140 p. Thesis (M.S.W)--Smith College School for Social Work, Northampton, Mass., 2007. Includes bibliographical references (leaves 123-125).