Self, other and the sociopolitical in politically active women survivors of domestic violence

Molly Ann Hedrick, University of Rhode Island


This research examined experiences with interpersonal, intrapersonal, and structural violence in politically active women survivors of domestic violence. This study also explored how (if at all) these women described processes which Freire (2003) called critical consciousness and liberating action, and what these women can tell us about the processes of change. ^ Participants were 16 survivors of domestic violence recruited from Sisters Overcoming Abusive Relationships (SOAR) in Rhode Island. SOAR is an organization run entirely by survivors of domestic violence and provides political activism with the goal of ending domestic violence. I utilized a mixed-methods, transformative and social constructivist concurrent design. The bulk of the data was provided by a semi-structured interview that was designed to elicit different experiences with violence and processes of consciousness and action. Background information, the Institutional Response to Battering Scale (Mitchell, & Hodson, 1986) and the Adult Experiences with Violence Scale by Quina, et al. (1999) were utilized for purposes of triangulation with the qualitative data. ^ Results indicated that these women had experienced a number of types of violence across interpersonal, intrapersonal and structural levels. An escalation in the violence, or an incident involving their children, initially enabled them to start to view their relationships as abusive. In response to this violence, their narratives provided evidence for a developing critical consciousness with relational and intrapsychic components, as well as the more commonly recognized sociopolitical process. Narratives also revealed cognitive, behavioral, and affective components of this critical consciousness. This finding suggests that critical consciousness involves an awareness of internal working models of attachment organization (e.g., Collins & Allard, 2001). Participant narratives also indicated that critical consciousness was a process over time and that there were negative consequences to critical consciousness. Finally, participants were able to utilize their increased awareness/consciousness to take liberating action to fight against individual and societal oppression. This led most participants to change the way they saw themselves, their relationships and the world through praxis. The necessity of theoretical, clinical, and policy work to address structural, relational, intrapsychic, and situational variables is explored in the implications and future work. ^

Subject Area

Women's Studies|Psychology, Clinical

Recommended Citation

Molly Ann Hedrick, "Self, other and the sociopolitical in politically active women survivors of domestic violence" (2006). Dissertations and Master's Theses (Campus Access). Paper AAI3248230.