Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in Communication Studies


Communication Studies

First Advisor

Geoffrey Leatham


This research explores the published memoirs of six survivor’s accounts of Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) utilizing Harvey, Orbuch, and Fink’s (1990a) Account-Making in Response to Severe Stress model with focus on the final stage of the model, Identity Change. The authors theorize that when the trauma survivor achieves this development, she will have fundamentally altered beliefs compared to when the abuse occurred. The consequence of failing to successfully engage in the final stage of Identity Change is Failure to Learn/Adapt, with the contention that the individual will repeat the stress and have a maladaptive response pattern.

This research was approached with the assertion that failing to successfully engage in Identity Change may be a factor in the maladaptive response pattern of returning-to or remaining-in the abusive relationship and therefore sought to answer 2 questions: Did the memoirs reflect evidence of Identity Change as depicted in Harvey et al.’s (1990a) model for successful engagement?; and, Was functional engagement in the Identity Change stage accompanied by evidence the victim had permanently left the abusive relationship?

The six memoirs selected for study were obtained by internet searches using keywords, and meeting further criteria established by this author. The process is detailed in the Methodology section.

The resulting analysis shows that five of the six survivors of IPV had successfully engaged in the Identity Change stage and permanently left their abusers.



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