Doctoral Dissertations

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



Major Professor

Sandra Paul Thomas

Committee Members

Howard Pollio, Priscilla Blanton, Patricia Droppleman


Abused women often leave their partners. In fact, many women often leave seven or eight times before they leave for good, decide to stay, or are killed in the process of leaving. There is a rich literature on abused women providing information regarding abuse awareness, identification, assessment, intervention, and cultural issues; relatively few studies, however, have explored women's experience of leaving the abusive relationship and staying out. The purpose of this study was to describe the experience of formerly abused women staying out of the abusive relationship. The study used a phenomenological interpretive methodology to describe the structure of the experience as related by nine adult female participants. Data were collected on the basis of phenomenological interviews, with audio-taping and verbatim transcription of the resulting audio tapes. Analysis of transcripts was done both individually by the researcher and within an interpretive phenomenological research group. The thematic structure derived from data analysis describes the women's experience in the context of time, and in relation to others. Three major, interrelated, themes emerged within this context: Good/Bad, Stable/Unstable, and Empowered/Helpless. Findings are discussed in relation to nursing practice, education, and research.

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