The experiences of low-income female survivors of domestic violence

Slabbert, Ilse (2010-12)

Thesis (PhD (Social Work))--University of Stellenbosch, 2010.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Domestic violence crosses all boundaries and is regarded as a universal challenge affecting women of all spheres of life. Domestic violence is seen as a serious social problem in South Africa. It is regarded by many researchers as a leading cause of female injury. Domestic violence can be described as an act by a member of a family against another member with intent to do physical injury, psychological or emotional harm, or an assault or a threat that reasonably places that member in fear of imminent physical injury or emotional harm. It has major consequences, not only for the abused woman, but also for her children and society at large. Many low-income women cannot escape their abusive circumstances due to a lack of resources. Despite the fact that they cannot leave their situation, many women display certain strengths, helping them to deal with their difficult situation. These women can be viewed as heroic, assertive and persistent. They are not victims, but active survivors. The social work profession could benefit from greater insight into the strengths and coping mechanisms of low-income female survivors of domestic violence. The goal of the study is to gain an understanding of low-income female survivors’ experience of domestic violence, focusing on their environmental resources (including family, friends and community) and on their coping mechanisms (inner resources/strengths). To achieve this goal, the objectives are: to present a theoretical overview of the nature and extent of domestic violence; to describe the environmental resources (such as family, friends and community) of low-income abused women from the ecological perspective; to explore the coping mechanisms (inner resources) of these women in terms of the principles of the strengths perspective; and to analyse and interpret the data obtained from the study. The research utilises an exploratory and descriptive design. The research question is, “What are the experience (environmental resources) and coping mechanisms (inner resources) of lowincome female survivors of domestic violence?” This question was addressed by means of qualitative research. Twenty participants took part in the study. Purposive and snowball sampling were used to select the participants. They were interviewed by the researcher, and the data obtained from the interviews were organised into themes. Five themes namely, the experience of domestic violence, low-income, resources, coping mechanisms and statutory intervention were identified. These themes were further divided into sub-themes and categories. Conclusions derived from the data included: domestic violence is a phenomenon that cuts across all racial, marital status or age boundaries; some low-income female survivors of domestic violence experience their situation as stressful; low-income is one of the determining factors preventing some abused women to leave their situation; resources play a significant part in the lives of some low-income abused women; certain strengths from some low-income battered women help them cope; and some abused low-income women do not find an Interim Protection Order (IPO) or the police to be helpful. The recommendations are that social workers should assess primary, secondary and tertiary intervention in dealing with domestic violence; the ecological and strengths perspectives combined would be helpful in assessing resources and coping mechanisms in low-income abused women and collaboration between social workers, the court and the police could help low-income abused women to use statutory services effectively.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Gesinsgeweld ken geen grense nie en word beskou as ’n universele bedreiging vir vroue uit alle sektore van die samelewing. Gesinsgeweld word beskou as ’n ernstige maatskaplike probleem in Suid-Afrika. Dit word deur baie navorsers beskou as ’n hoofoorsaak van vrouebeserings. Gesinsgeweld kan beskou word as ’n daad deur een lid van die gesin teen ’n ander wat gemik is op fisieke skade, sielkundige of emosionele teistering, of ’n aanval of ’n dreigement wat die lid van die gesin laat vrees vir fisieke beserings of emosionele skade. Dit het grootskaalse gevolge, nie net vir die mishandelde vrou nie, maar ook vir haar kinders en vir die breër gemeenskap. Baie lae-inkomste vroue kan nie uit hulle gewelddadige situasie ontsnap nie, vanweë beperkte bronne. Nieteenstaande die feit dat baie vroue nie hul huidige omstandighede kan ontkom nie, toon hulle sekere sterktes wat hulle help in hulle moeilike omstandighede. Hierdie vroue kan beskou word as heldinne wat nie tou opgooi nie. Hulle is nie slagoffers nie, maar oorleef aktief [Engels: “active survivors”]. Die maatskaplikewerkprofessie kan baat by groter insig in die sterktes en hanteringsvaardighede van lae-inkomste vroue wat gesinsgeweld oorleef. Die doel van die studie is om groter insig te verkry in lae-inkomste vroue se ervaring van gesinsgeweld, veral hulle omgewingsfaktore (insluitende familie, vriende en gemeenskap) en van hulle hanteringsmeganismes (innerlike bronne/sterktes). Om hierdie doel te bereik, is die doelwitte: om ’n teoretiese aanbieding van die aard en omvang van gesinsgeweld te gee; om die omgewingsbronne (soos familie, vriende en gemeenskap) van lae-inkomste mishandelde vroue te verduidelik; om die hanteringsmeganismes (innerlike bronne) van hierdie vroue te eksploreer in terme van die beginsels van die sterkte perspektief; en om die data van die studie te analiseer en te interpreteer. Die navorsingsontwerp is eksploratief-beskrywend van aard. Die navorsingsvraag lui soos volg: “Wat is die ervaring (omgewingsfaktore) en hanteringsmeganismes (innerlike bronne) van lae-inkomste vroue wat gesinsgeweld te bowe kom?” Die vraag is aangespreek deur middel van kwalitatiewe navorsing. Twintig deelnemers het deelgeneem aan die studie. Doelgerigte- en sneeubal steekproeftegnieke is gebruik om die deelnemers te verkry. Die navorser het met hulle onderhoude gevoer en die data wat verkry is, is georganiseer in temas. Vyf temas, naamlik die ervaring van gesinsgeweld; lae inkomste; bronne; hanteringsmeganismes; en statutêre intervensie is geïdentifiseer. Die temas is in subtemas en kategorieë onderverdeel. Gevolgtrekkings wat gemaak is uit die data is: gesinsgeweld is ’n verskynsel wat alle ras-, huwelikstatus- of ouderdomsgrense oorskry; sekere lae-inkomste vroulike oorwinnaars van gesinsgeweld ervaar hulle situasie as stresvol; hulpbronne speel ’n betekenisvolle rol in die lewens van sommige lae-inkomste mishandelde vroue; sekere sterktes van lae-inkomste mishandelde vroue help hulle om die situasie te hanteer; en sekere lae-inkomste, mishandelde vroue vind nie ’n Interim Beskermingsbevel (IB) of die polisie as hulpvaardig nie. Die aanbevelings is dat maatskaplike werkers primêre, sekondêre en tersiêre intervensie behoort te assesseer by gesinsgeweld; die ekologiese en sterktes perspektiewe behoort saam aangewend te word om die omgewingsbronne en hanteringsmeganismes van lae-inkomste mishandelde vroue te ondersoek; en samewerking tussen maatskaplike werkers, die hof en polisie kan lae-inkomste mishandelde vroue help om statutêre dienste beter te benut.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/5233
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