Out from and beyond trauma: women's experiences of the process from rape to living well

McKenzie-Mohr, Suzanne (2008) Out from and beyond trauma: women's experiences of the process from rape to living well. Doctoral (PhD) thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

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Most trauma research has addressed only the painful, often devastating effects of traumatic experiences on individuals, and thus has left unexplored the opportunity to move beyond survival or recovery to positive outcomes. While a small but growing body of research has focused on positive as well as negative changes after trauma, most of these studies use quantitative methods to understand this change and have focused almost exclusively on elements associated with outcomes rather than on the process an individual may progress through toward these outcomes. This investigation is unique in its study of the process into living well after rape, as experienced and understood by a group of adult women. It is meant to be research for, rather than on, women - in which the research process empowers by focusing on women's agency, providing new accounts of women's experience, and attending to both personal and social potential and transformation. Through multiple individual participant-guided interviews, ten women shared their stories. While interviewing women, the inadequacies of dominant scripts to assist in understanding rape itself and to support positive change after rape became evident. Prevailing narratives available to women are influenced deeply by medical, legal, and social framings of women's lives, resulting in, at best, a focus on the amelioration of negative effects. These influences have challenged and obscured women's post-rape experiences of progressing toward living well. Following Kathy Charmaz's constructivist approach to grounded theory, I explore the process participants navigated and strategies they used to transcend limiting discourses and grow toward living well. The interpretations reflect a long, complex, and multi-dimensional process that involved three phases. While progress tended to be slow, breakthroughs of more significant progress occurred that assisted women in their transition into subsequent phases, often with the assistance of allies. Further, participants described their progress from one phase of the process to the next as secure and irreversible due to fundamental developments in themselves and their understanding of rape. Strategies developed by women to deconstruct and reconstruct rape scripts in order to progress toward living well are discussed, and implications for informal and professional allies are considered.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral (PhD))
URI: http://research.library.mun.ca/id/eprint/9713
Item ID: 9713
Additional Information: Includes bibliographical references (leaves 256-275).
Department(s): Social Work, School of
Date: 2008
Date Type: Submission
Library of Congress Subject Heading: Rape trauma syndrome; Rape victims--Psychological aspects; Rape victims--Services for

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